Introduction from the Book
…ויעש ה’ אלהים לאדם ולאשתו כתנות עור וילבישם – בתורתו של ר’ מאיר מצאו כתוב: כתנות אור
“And Hashem Elohim made for Adam and his wife garments of leather and clothed them”—in the Torah of Rabbi Meir they found that it was written: “garments of light…”
– Midrash Beresheet Rabbah 20:12
After partaking of the Forbidden Fruit, Adam and Eve suddenly became aware that they were naked. Ashamed, they quickly covered themselves up with fig leaves before God provided them with proper leather garments. Yet, in his personal copy of the Torah, Rabbi Meir wrote not “garments of leather”, kotnot ‘or (כתנות עור) but “garments of light”, kotnot or (כתנות אור). The words are pronounced essentially the same way, the only difference being the letter ayin replaced with an aleph.
Our Sages teach that initially Adam and Eve were beings of radiant light. Only after consuming the Fruit did their light fade away, and their bodies were left covered in skin. Prior to the Fruit, when Adam and Eve gazed upon each other they saw one another’s inner glow, and felt nothing but pure love; after the Fruit, they saw frail skin, and all of its lustful trappings. This is why they were so ashamed.
Ever since, it is the mission of each person to see through the deceptive outer skin of others to find the goodness radiating from within every human being. And it is the life’s work of each person to bring forth their own inner light that is concealed deep inside.
Our Sages teach that the Torah, too, was initially glowing with pure light, with all of its profound wisdom and esoteric secrets openly revealed, easily graspable by all. After the Fruit, the Torah similarly underwent a concealment, and now we must toil in its words, and dig ever deeper to unlock its infinite wisdom. Jewish texts often affirm that there are shiv’im panim laTorah, “seventy faces to the Torah”. Each verse and each word—if not each letter and stroke of the scribal pen—has seventy layers of meaning. And each layer itself can be interpreted in multiple ways. Nonetheless, elu v’elu divrei Elohim chaim, “these and these are the Living Words of God”—it is all one Torah.
This is the secret of the shift from the letter ayin to the letter aleph, for ayin has a numerical value (gematria) of seventy, while aleph has a value of one. All seventy layers emanate from the one Torah; all shine forth from its original, primordial light.
Like man, the Torah has been clothed in garments, seventy garments that may take a lifetime to uncover. The following seventy essays on the weekly parasha and holidays aim to shed a little bit of that light.
Click on the links below to read more.
- The Big Bang and the Age of the Universe
- How Jewish Law is Supposed to Make You Better
- Noah’s Ark & the Tower of Babel: Not What You Think!
- The Zohar’s Prophecy of Another Great Flood
- Secrets of the Akedah
- A Mystical Journey through the Lives of Sarah
- Isaac and Rebecca: the Secret to Perfect Marriage
- The Origins of Jerusalem and the Priesthood
- With Whom Did Jacob Wrestle? The Surprising Identity of Jacob’s “Angel”
- Embracing Converts, and the Seeds of Amalek
- Was Joseph Really Sold By His Own Brothers?
- Does Archaeological Evidence Prove the Biblical Narrative of Joseph?
- The Flood, the Tower, and Egypt: Why Were the Israelites Enslaved?
- The Incredible Story of Serach bat Asher
- How Jacob Prophesied All of Jewish History
- The Meaning of God’s Names
- The Ten Plagues: Destroying the Idols of Egypt
- Should We Still Be Praying for Mashiach?
- The Mystery of Manna
- Jethro and the Druze
- The Puzzle of the 613 Commandments
- How Charity Can Save Your Life
- Unmasking the Golden Calf: Who, Why, and How?
- Mysteries of the Mishkan: Understanding the Tabernacle and its Sacrifices
- Shabbat, Technology, and Our Cosmic Purpose
- The Names and Divisions of Angels
- Space Travel in the World to Come?
- The Holy Souls of Nadav and Avihu
- Secrets of the Menorah Psalm and the Jewish Holidays
- Are More Restrictions Good for Judaism?
- Shaving and the Mystical Power of Beards
- A Deeper Look at the Sin of the Spies
- King Solomon on Feminism
- Who Was Miriam the Prophetess, and What Did She Prophesy?
- Do Jews Really Follow the Torah?
50. Keys to Living a Long Life
- How to Receive God’s Blessing
52. Why Taking Care of the Environment is a Torah Mitzvah
53. Does the Torah Allow Polygamy?
57. The Incredible Midrash of Moshe’s Death
58. Why is Rosh Hashanah the New Year?
59. The Problem with Kapparot
60. Uniting Heaven and Earth
- Israel and Amalek: The Cosmic Struggle
- The First Jewish Holiday
64. Transcending Nature
- The Real Ten Commandments You’ve Never Heard Of
66. The Spiritual Significance of Sefirat HaOmer
67. The Hidden History of Lag B’Omer
68. Tisha B’Av: The Untold Story of Napoleon and the Jews
69. Why Tu B’Av Is More Important Than Yom Kippur
70. Tu b’Shevat: The Prime Ministers of Israel and the Coming of Mashiach