The giving of the Torah

painting by Yoram Raanan (

Excerpts from Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag’s essay “Matan Torah” are patched together here to create a brief statement of what once made it possible for God to speak to an entire people. What essential message do we need to “get” in order to reconnect and truly receive the Torah?

When we are commanded “and love your fellow as yourself” [Lev. 19:18], the expression “as yourself” implies that you are to love your fellow to the same degree that you love yourself and not to any degree less than that whatsoever. This implies that you are obligated to be on constant watch to fulfill the needs of every single person — at the very least, each one of the nation of Israel — to no less degree than you are alert to fulfill your own needs. This is a completely impossible task, for not many are able in their work-day to fulfill their own needs, so how can you obligate anyone to fulfill the wishes of the entire nation?

It was for this reason that the Torah was not given to our holy fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but was withheld until the exodus from Egypt. At that time they left and became a complete nation, including six hundred thousand men aged twenty years or more. For then each member of the nation was asked if he or she agrees to take on this exalted work. And once each and every one of the nation agreed to this with all of his or her heart and soul, and said: “We will do and we will hear” [Ex. 24:7], then was created the possibility of fulfilling the Torah as a whole.

For this is a complete certainty: If six hundred thousand people give up busying themselves with their own needs, and they have nothing to do in their lives apart from making sure that their comrades lack absolutely nothing — and moreover, they do it out of a mighty love with all their heart and soul, in accordance with the full meaning of the commandment “and love your fellow as yourself” — then it is clear without the slightest doubt that all need has been eliminated for any member of the nation to have concern for his or her own sustenance.

Thus each individual can easily fulfill the commandment of “and love your fellow as yourself” in accord with all the conditions that have been clarified [to love your fellow to the same degree that you love yourself and to give precedence to others’ needs before our own]. For how could a person have concern for his or her own sustenance when at that moment six hundred thousand loyal lovers are standing by, at the ready, with great attention to ensure that he or she lacks nothing that is needed?

Therefore, once all the members of the nation agreed to this, immediately the Torah was given to them, because now they were qualified to fulfill it.

About the Author
Aryeh Siegel is a Diplomate in Logotherapy (Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy) with a Ph.D. in philosophy of logic and metaphysics (M.I.T.). Having studied for over 20 years the Kabbalah of Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag (Baal Hasulam) from Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Gottlieb, he publishes articles and delivers lectures on the philosophy of Kabbalah and Logotherapy. As translator and editor, he has published the book "Giving - The Essential Teaching of the Kabbalah" (Urim Publications, 2020), which includes essays by Baal Hasulam with Rabbi Gottlieb's commentary.
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