5. “So it is with one who grasps the principle and does not know all those delectable delights deriving, diverging from that principle.”
This quotation comes from the Zohar’s parable “The Essence of Torah,” the story of a man who comes to town from the mountains. When he visits the city, he tries bread, cakes, and pastries for the first time, after a lifetime spent eating wheat kernels raw. When he learns that these delicious treats are also made of wheat, he begins to consider himself a master of them all since he knows their main ingredient—raw wheat—so well. But the man is mistaken, because by knowing wheat alone, one doesn’t also know the many products of wheat, like pastries, bread, and cake. Together these four foods symbolize the four different levels of Torah interpretation. Kabbalists believe strongly that to know each successive level, one must study and master one level at a time. By knowing merely the words of Torah, one masters only the first level, not all four—just as the man from the mountains knew only wheat, not pastries, cake, and bread, by eating raw wheat kernels throughout his life. Kabbalists believe true knowledge comes with profound patience and diligence, as the countless mysteries of Torah reveal themselves only to the truly devout.