Recommended Posts

Acquiring Torah 39: Ramchal: Derech Eitz haChaim V

Wisdom has already been set by the Holy One, Blessed is He, in the hearts of all men, but in order that it might grow, His mouth which sustains it, has to vigorously fan it. Just like fire flaring up when it is fanned, wisdom glows when the Influence descends from the Divine mouth like a draft, so that the knowledge and understanding already, although imperceptibly, enclosed in it become apparent, for only wisdom, which is intellect on its own, had previously been perceptible.


Understanding is the intellect’s mode of perception, linking one thing with another and basing one thing on another, and knowledge is the result are merging from all these processes; but these fulfill their functions only through the draft with which the Supreme mouth fans them.

The while wisdom has already been granted and the Divine mouth merely sustains it, knowledge and understanding have to renew themselves, and only through the power of the puff from the Divine mouth and the manifestation of knowledge and understanding be constantly renewed.

That is what Elihu meant when he said, “Surely there is spirit in man, and the Almighty’s breath gives them understanding (Job 32:8).” As in, “The breath is like a stream of sulfur (Isaiah 30:33),” the word is derived not from Neshamah (soul) but from Neshimah, the breath of the mouth or the blowing of the wind, and it is this, not days or years, which bestows insight. (Ramchal; Derech Eitz Hachaim IV)

We are not satisfied with just wisdom, the information of Torah. Our study demands understanding. The Talmud teaches: Rav Ashi explained: I might have thought that one should apply salt only to give the offering a taste, just as understanding [Just as understanding gives ‘taste’ and distinction to man; Rashi]. (Menachot 21a)

Understanding enhances the person and his Torah study just as salt enhances the meat and prepares it for consumption.

We also find in the Talmud: Rabina said: The Judeans who made their studies accessible to the public retained their learning, but the Galileans who did not make their studies accessible to the public did not retain their learning [ They toil to explain their teachings until they can rest in the student’s heart: Rashi]. (Eiruvin 53a)

To achieve this level of understanding is not a matter of “days or years,” but to connect to the puff from the Divine mouth that blows on the wisdom, the physical form of the Torah, the words, the coal. We will not receive or grow in our understanding unless we are connected to the breath of God that lives within us.

Go Back to Previous Page

  • Other visitors also read