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Acquiring Torah 36: Derech Eitz haChaim II: Three Gates

There are two factors in understanding: human intellect and the Torah which aids human intellect. Concerning the Torah, it is said, “Is not My word like fire, says God (Jeremiah 23:29).” He thus informed us that the Torah is an actual light bestowed on Israel for illumination.


Unlike other branches of wisdom and sciences, which can be mastered through mere intellectual effort, the Torah is a sacred entity with an exalted presence in the loftiest of heights; and when a man occupies himself with it here below, it is a light illuminating his soul so as to convey to him the loftiest treasures, those of the Creator, Blessed be His Name, through the powerful luster which it sheds. This is what the Sage meant by, “Torah is light (Proverbs 6:23,)” actual light, for such is Torah’s reality.

Above that when it enters a soul, light enters it, just like a ray of sunshine enters a house. (Ramchal; Derech Eitz haChaim, Paragraph Two)

There are three types of wisdom. The first, which is comprised of the natural sciences, includes physics and chemistry. The second, which is comprised of mathematics, includes algebra and geometry, astronomy and musical composition. The third is comprised of theology and is concerned with the knowledge of God and His Torah, as well as of such concerns as the soul, the mind, and supernatural beings.

All three, with all their components, are gates opened by the Creator for people to comprehend Torah and the world. (Introduction to Chovot haLevavot)

The Maharsha (Chiddushei Aggadot, Sanhedrin 92a) explains that one who does not access the gift of knowledge and wisdom, denies his human essence.

Torah study will illuminate our souls when we are aware that we can realize our potential only by increasing and developing Wisdom and Understanding, entering the Three Gates described by the Chovot haLevavot.

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