Part 4: "Divine Service"
Ch. 2: "Torah Study"
Our people have had quite a few sublime souls who worked at purifying and
sanctifying themselves before studying Torah. As we said, they'd always
concentrate on G-d's presence in their midst, they'd set out to rectify
themselves and everyone else by their efforts, they'd study in awe and in
deference while fully aware of the Heavenly gates opening before their
eyes one after the other, they'd have repented before approaching the holy
books for anything untoward they might have done and then afterwards again
for anything they might have taken wrong, and they'd be keenly aware of
their role as a conduit of G-d's will and wishes.
And each one of them was thus able to transmit a degree of Divine
effulgence downward commensurate to their efforts. In many instances, in
fact, their success was quite open and above board. We're taught that some
notable earlier sages (and far more so than the later sages) were even
able to effect undeniable changes in their immediate environment. When
Yonatan ben Uziel studied Torah, for example, any birds flying overhead
would suddenly catch fire, the Divine Presence was so intensely manifest.
And many other sages were likewise able to manifest supernatural phenomena.
Part of our modern cynicism about Torah and our precious heritage, it
seems, comes from the fact that those sorts of things don't happen anymore
(at least manifestly), since so few of us study Torah in such outright
wonderment, veneration, and purity. Would that we ourselves would be moved
from now on to strive for that!