When viewing an actual image, a telescope produces a smaller version, a microscope produces a larger version, whereas a Torahscope produces the true version. Our physical eyes perceive a façade—a world that obscures any semblance of spirituality and truth. As far as our vision is concerned, Hashem, our souls, and the World to Come—the three fundamental tenets of our religion—do not exist. Only by viewing the world through the Torah’s lens are we capable of beholding reality.
Remarkably, a Torahscope not only helps discern the spiritual nature of life in general, but also helps unlock the meaning of the words of the Torah itself. In this week’s Parsha, regarding a court of law that does not know how to judge a particular case, the Torah says, “If a matter of judgment is hidden from you…you shall rise up and ascend to the place that Hashem, your G-d, shall choose [i.e. the Bais HaMikdash—the Holy Temple—in Jerusalem].” Rashi, quoting the Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin, explains that from the words “you shall rise up and ascend” we learn that the Bais HaMikdash is higher than all other places.
Instead of blindly accepting this topographical oddity, the Chasam Sofer—Rabbi Moshe Sofer (1762-1839)—asks three pointed questions. Firstly, why does the Torah find it necessary to convey geographical facts; details that we are quite capable of calculating ourselves? Secondly, these geographical facts are not true! Mount Everest stands at 29,029 feet above sea level while the Temple Mount stands at 2,428 feet above sea level. Thirdly, since the world is round, there is no “high point” or “low point.” Wherever on the globe a person is standing is for him the highest point of the globe, and therefore, any subsequent move he makes is merely a shift from one high point to another, but not an ascent.
However, the Chasam Sofer explains, that by viewing our Sage’s words through the lens of the Torah, our questions fade away. The Zohar Hakadosh explains that when Hashem created the world, “He took a stone called the Even Shesiya and threw it into the depths where it was fixed from above till below, and from it the world expanded.” Although the true meaning of this Zohar Hakadosh lies beyond our comprehension, we do learn from these words that Hashem formed the world from a foundation stone called the Even Shesiya. Since everything that exists in the world stems from this stone and, as it were, looks towards it, the Even Shesiya is the true pinnacle of the physical world.
Although the Even Shesiya is now sadly covered by the Dome of the Rock, its original home was the Bais HaMikdash. Therefore, any journey towards the Bais HaMikdash—from any point in the world—constituted an ascent. The Bais HaMikdash aptly stood, and will, please G-d in our days, once again stand on top of the world, at the spiritual junction of heaven and earth. In the words of the Midrash Tanchuma (Kedoshim 10): As the navel is set in the center of the human body, so is the land of Israel set in the center of the world…and Jerusalem in the center of the land of Israel, and the Bais HaMikdash in the center of Jerusalem, and the sanctuary in the center of the Bais HaMikdash, and the holy ark in the center of the sanctuary, and the Even Shesiya before the holy ark, because from it the world was founded.
In memory of the Neshama of Reb Asher ben Tzvi Haynoch
L’iluy Nishmas Aidel bas Avraham
In memory of the Neshama of Shmuel Yosef ben Yitzchok
L’iluy Nishmas Chaim ben David