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Acquiring Torah 45: Ramchal: Derech Eitz Hachaim XI

The Torah is called “strength,” as is well known, for it lends power to holiness through the mystery of, “Grant strength to the Lord.” Before a man is born, he is taught the entire Torah with a view to enabling his soul, before its entry into the body, to be permeated by the Torah so that it might find a proper remedy through all the degrees of sanctity.


Yet, on its departure into the world, and Angel comes in draws him on so as to provide a hold for the evil impulse, for he would otherwise be swept away by the force of sanctity and revert to being like an angel without the remedy of putting a stop to the Other Side.

Consequently, the light of the Torah is then concealed within him, and the Other Side has power over him. This period is called his “uncircumcised years,” during which it is necessary to discipline him, as it is said, “The rod of reproof shall keep it far from him (Proverbs 22:15),” and also, “You shall discipline him with the rod deliver his soul from perdition (23:14).” “Perdition” is the foreskin to which our Sages referred when they said, “Separation from the foreskin is like separation from the grave (Pesachim 92a).” It is a real grave, for since starkness prevent’s the Supreme Light from reaching it, it can be described as actually dead in the grave. Such is the mystery of, “He has set me in dark places like the dead of old (Lamentations 3:6).” [Ramchal; Derech Eitz Hachaim XI]

We enter this world with Torah permeating our soul, but blocked from full expression by our uncircumcised hearts. A vacuum is created, affording an opportunity for the Evil Inclination to enter. Our battle begins.

The battle is to overcome the Evil Inclination so as to remove the “foreskin” of the heart, and access the Torah that is already permeating our souls; a part of our essence. The battle is to find that essence.

Each time we discipline ourselves we remove part of that “foreskin.” Each time we overcome a destructive urge, we are connecting one step closer to our essence, permeated by Torah.

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