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Torah Without Teachers

A verse in Jeremiah states: “No longer shall any man teach his neighbor nor any man his brother, saying, ‘Know G-d,’ for they shall all know me, from their smallest to their greatest.”

“For they shall all know me” does not refer to knowledge and comprehension of an intellectual kind, for this, like the faculty of hearing, means knowing from afar. Rather, this verse refers to a direct recognition, to seeing the actual nature (the mahus) of that which is perceived – just as a man knows and recognizes his friend because he sees him constantly. This is an intrinsic knowledge, (as, for example, in the verse “You alone I have known”).

For this reason, no man will teach his neighbor, for teaching is appropriate when a subject can be grasped rationally, not when the true nature of something is perceived and recognized by direct vision. For this reason, too, all men will know G-d equally, for whereas on the scale of rational comprehension there are men of greater and lesser ability, when it comes to the direct perception of the essence of a subject there are no differences between great and small. Great and small recognize a king alike.

Thus it is written, “For the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean bed”: As with the surface of the ocean, the “cover” is the same with respect to all men. Similarly, at the Giving of the Torah, all those present recognized their maker alike, as it is written, “All the people beheld.”

(From Exile to Redemption, p. 96. Jeremiah 31:33. Isaiah 11:9. Shmot 20:15. Shaar Haemuna, p. 61)

 

 


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