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+ 369 I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in providence, for the illumination of the ignorant and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth. John Adams

+ 592 Torah is greater than the priesthood or sovereignty, for sovereignty is acquired with thirty virtues, the priesthood with twenty-four, and Torah is acquired with forty-eight qualities. These are: study, listening, verbalizing, comprehension of the heart, awe, fear, humility, joy, purity, serving the sages, companionship with one's contemporaries, debating with one's students, tranquility, study of the scriptures, study of the Mishnah, minimizing engagement in business, minimizing socialization, minimizing pleasure, minimizing sleep, minimizing talk, minimizing gaiety, slowness to anger, good heartedness, faith in the sages, acceptance of suffering, knowing one's place, satisfaction with one's lot, qualifying one's words, not taking credit for oneself, likableness, love of God, love of humanity, love of charity, love of justice, love of rebuke, fleeing from honor, lack of arrogance in learning, reluctance to hand down rulings, participating in the burden of one's fellow, judging him to the side of merit, correcting him, bringing him to a peaceful resolution [of his disputes], deliberation in study, asking and answering, listening and illuminating, learning in order to teach, learning in order to observe, wising one's teacher, exactness in conveying a teaching, and saying something in the name of its speaker. Thus we have learned: One who says something in the name of its speaker brings redemption to the world, as is stated (Esther 2:22), "And Esther told the king in the name of Mordechai." Pirkei Avot 6:6

+ 230 Angels sail through our lives like ships of light visiting us through the portals of our hearts. An angel's wingspan is broad enough to lift the heart of the entire world. Angels encourage everyone in the direction they really want to go...up. The warmth of an angel's light can comfort and illuminate the whole world. Angels are the bright lights in the midst of our lives.

+ 198 And God made the two great luminaries: the great luminary to rule the day and the lesser luminary to rule the night, and the stars. Bereshit 1:16

+ 135 And he came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel, and there were the cloud and the darkness, and it illuminated the night, and one did not draw near the other all night long. Shemot 14:20

+ 137 When one forgets the essence of one’s own soul, when one distracts oneself from attending to the substantive content of their own inner life, everything becomes confused and uncertain. The primary role of teshuva/return/penitence…is for the person to return to themselves, to the root of their soul…It is only through the great truth of returning to oneself that the person and the people, the world and all the worlds, the whole of existence, will return to their Creator, to be illuminated by the light of life. Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook - (Orot HaTshuva/Lights of Return 15:10)

+ 99 Torah for its Own Sake

What is the essence of learning Torah for its own sake?

In spiritual teachings, this is self-understood. Such teachings are openly concerned with coming close to God and elevation in sanctity. We are uplifted by these teachings.

But what about Torah texts on practical matters?

We must understand that these are all branches and garments of the light of divine honesty and justice. Within their details, we may find the divine soul of the perfection of the world: in life, in physicality and in spirit, in community and in the individual. Once we realize this, light gleams and descends into every detail. Once the feeling of our inner heart and mind is dedicated to the divine and inclusive illumination hidden in the multitude of these practical teachings, we come to an inner revelation within every detail, which shines in accordance with the capability of our individual spirit.

At times, our thought broadens and takes such clear form that we may even express and explicate the spark of divine light that we have understood in some of those details. And in this elevated state, we uplift all the details.

At other times, the matter is revealed only as a subtle glimmer in the chambers of our heart. Even then, however, this lifts our soul to an elevated state, through which all of life is rarified.

In regard to this latter manifestation, our sages stated: “Whoever learns Torah for its own sake merits many things.” And regarding the former inclusive illumination, they added: “And not only that, but the whole world is considered worthwhile for his sake.”

Orot Hatorah 2:2

+ 85 The Encompassing Light

At times, we cannot learn because we are on a level where the encompassing light that transcends letters shines upon us, and we cannot constrict ourselves within the letters of what we are learning.

When we accept this illumination in holiness and humility, we can learn with great joy and a very clear understanding.

Orot Hatorah 5:3

+ 97 The Essential Core

When we learn in holiness, our will and mind grow refined. The divine illumination comes from the essential core of our soul and fills its being entirely. Then spiritual life spreads out to the ends of its being, just as blood courses to all parts of the body.

But secular learning, of whatever discipline, only enlivens the particular topic with which it deals.

This is the basic difference between the holy and secular in regard to quantitative worth. But from the aspect of qualitative worth, the difference is infinitely more exalted.

Orot Hatorah 6:1

+ 92 A Double Joy

At times, when we learn small matters with such great feeling that they impress our spirit as though they were the highest of the high, our consciousness grows corporeal, and the wings of our spirit are severed.

The proper path is to learn every topic with a joy that contains a double feeling.

The first is a feeling of supernal greatness, since every spiritual twig makes whole the entire Tree of Life. In this light, everything is great.

The second is a feeling that in the particular contents of all learning material, particularly of the Torah, there is a very positive value that is worth being appreciated with the joy of respect in accordance with its value.

Then the fire from above and the fire from below join to illuminate and warm our soul.

Orot Hatorah 9:9

+ 115 Dark Alleys Shine

Once we learn much hidden Torah, whatever we understand and learn from the revealed Torah shines with a precious light.

Then the hidden Torah, with its special quality, appears in all those topics that the revealed Torah discusses.

This is found in the Jerusalem Talmud: since its authors were pious, their Torah was “blessed.” In contrast, the words of the Babylonian Talmud are merely “kept.” It seems that the Jerusalem Talmud deals with more elevated, pious people. Because of them, the Torah grows and becomes glorious. This is due to the appearance of attainments of holiness, starting from a small beginning and developing into great and powerful rivers. These people attain the light of Torah by prayer and deep study, as well as before and after learning. Such people constitute the body of Torah and the soul of Torah.

In this regard, there is a difference between the air of the land of Israel (where the holy spirit can flow upon the content of Jewish law) and elsewhere (where the holy spirit can spread openly only in aggadah, whereas Jewish law is judged by human intellect).

“‘In the dark places, You have placed me’ (Eichah 3:6)—this is the Babylonian Talmud” (Sanhedrin 24a). But from the midst of darkness, great light will sprout: “The nation that walks in darkness has seen a great light, those who dwell in a land of the shadow of death—light has shone upon them” (Is. 9:1). [“These are masters of the Talmud, who have seen great light, for the Holy One, blessed be He, illumines their eyes with what is forbidden and allowed, what is ritually unclean and clean” (Midrash Tanchuma Noach).]

In this way, these people bring down to the lowly avenues of life the illumination of God’s supernal Presence. In this way, they cause multitudinous dark alleys to shine. This aids numbers of those who are distant come, approach and connect to the supernal light of the glow of Torah in its might, the Torah of the land of Israel: “‘The gold of that land is good’ (Bereishis 2:12)—there is no Torah like the Torah of the land of Israel, and no wisdom like the wisdom of the land of Israel” (Bereishis Rabbah 16).

Orot Hatorah 13:1

+ 93 The Unbordered Light

In every Torah matter, in every aspect of a particular decree, streams the supernal, unbordered light. The total divine lesson can be extracted from every individual law.

To the observer who accustoms his soul to the stream of light, within every legal matter is revealed the content of its innate being, which is filled from the world of bright illumination, until in regards to every law and chapter he can give breadth to a new song, a full song, a full exposition.

This song pours forth continuously even upon every detail of the law, upon every path of discussion within it, until a poetic commentary that gives pleasure and creates Eden can spread across all the Torah, entirely, upon all the Torah—even the this-worldly and legal Torah—besides extending across all the Aggadic material, which shines with an illumination of a fine spiritual light.

Orot Hatorah 4:4