The "Torah" of the Creatures

Dear Friends,

Torah is the Divine wisdom which contains life-giving teachings. The term "Torah" in its broadest sense refers to all of our Sacred Scriptures and all of the sacred teachings which are derived from these verses. "Perek Shirah" – Chapter of Song – is an ancient anthology of Torah verses and teachings which are "sung" respectively by various creatures within creation. Each creature is therefore expressing an aspect of Torah.

The question can be asked: How did the wise author or authors of Perek Shirah discover the "Torah" expressed by each creature? The beginning of an answer can be found in the tradition that the Torah preceded the creation of the world and served as its blueprint. As the Zohar states:

"Fortunate are those who strive and occupy themselves with the Torah, for when the Holy One, Blessed be He, created the world, He looked into the Torah and created the world." (Zohar, Terumah, p. 161a)

A biblical source for this teaching can be found in the Book of Proverbs where Torah states, "I am wisdom" (8:12), and Torah adds:

"The Compassionate One made me as the beginning of His way, before His deeds of yore. I have reigned for eternity – from the beginning, from before there was the earth…Then I was with Him as an artisan" (8:22,23,30)

The Compassionate One looked into the Torah and created a harmonious world with its peaceful and beautiful Garden of Eden; thus, all the creatures within this ideal world are expressions of Torah.

It is written, "The Compassionate One gives wisdom" (Proverbs 2:6), and it is also written, "He gives wisdom to the wise" (Daniel 2:21). Fortunate are the wise who occupy themselves with the wisdom of Torah, for the Compassionate One will reveal to them the hidden "Torah" of each creature within the creation.

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

Related Teachings:

1. The teaching of the Zohar also appears in the Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 1:1), where it states, "The Holy One, Blessed be He, looked into the Torah and created the world." (I wish to thank Hazon participant, Yiftach Paltrowitz, for giving me the text of the quote from the Zohar.)

2. The Hebrew word "olam" refers to the world, and it is related to the word "ne'elam" – hidden. For hidden within the world is Torah, the life-giving Divine wisdom.

3. After human beings abandoned the mission which the Compassionate and Just One had given them, the world became damaged and corrupted. In the messianic age, however, the world will begin to return to its ideal state. This transformation is discussed by the Ramban in his commentary on Leviticus 26:6, and with the help of Hashem, we shall elaborate on these ideas during a later stage of this series.

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