Sunday, March 01, 2009

The angel who teaches and makes us forget

According to the gemara (Niddah 30b), before each of us is born, an angel comes and teaches us the entire Torah, yet before our birth we are made to forget it. What is the meaning of this midrash?

The midrash seems to be an expression the following two ideas about Torah:

1) It is not alien to any Jew. Even if you seem to be "encountering" it for the first time, it is inherently inside you, whether consciously or unconsciously. This can be encouraging to one who despairs of successfully learning or practicing it. It can also be a spur to one who is satisfied with their current level of achievement and sees no need for anything greater.
2) It is democratic: just like everyone learned the Torah in the womb, every deserves and can benefit from Torah education.

(mostly from a lecture by R' Soloveitchik about Pesach; March 15, 1970)

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