The Tie That Binds – Rabbi Aryeh Kravetz

In parshas Vayigash, Yehuda approaches Pharaoh’s right-hand man to plead for the return of his brother, Binyamin. Unbeknownst to Yehuda, he is actually bargaining with his own brother, Yosef. As he pleads for Binyamin’s release, he says “v’nafsho keshura b’nafsho” – and his soul is bound with his soul. Yehuda was telling Yosef that Yaakov’s life is dependent on Binyamin’s; the souls of both are connected (from the word “kesher” meaning tied) to one another. The Baal HaTurim points out that the numerical equivalent of the word “keshura” is equal to that of the word “Torah” and the source that connected Yaakov to Binyamin was the Torah that they learned together.
The nature of Torah is that it binds those who are learning it with each other. But, even more, it is what connects the learner to Hashem. The Baal HaTanya writes that while Hashem is impossible  to ever fully comprehend and come in full contact with, He still desires the Jewish people to be able to relate to Him. As such, He “compacted” His self, His infinite wisdom and will, and brought it down from the heavens in the form of the Torah. Therefore, while in Olam Haboh, the World to Come, the soul can only take pleasure from being in proximity to the Divine Presence, someone who engages in the study of Torah actually comes in full contact with Hashem, albeit in His “compacted” form.
As we come off of Chanukah where we celebrated the light of the Torah, it is important as ever to now fan the flames of inspiration into a fiery passion of desire to come close and have a true kesher with Hashem through the learning of His Torah. A connection that our very nefesh, our very life, depends on.

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