4. “Torah reveals and conceals herself. With love she approaches her lover to arouse love within him.”
This quotation comes from the Zohar’s parable “The Old Man and the Ravishing Maiden,” in which an old man tells two rabbis the story of a maiden and her devoted lover. The lover comes to the maiden’s gate every day and waits for just one glimpse of her face. One day the maiden finally shows her face at a window and then quickly withdraws it. The old man compares the maiden to the Torah, which always reveals and conceals its wisdom. Just as the maiden knows that her lover hovers by the gates of her palace, the Torah knows that its readers pore over its pages, hoping for a glimpse of understanding. Just as the lover who catches a glimpse of the maiden feels a strong desire to know her more intimately, enlightened readers of the Torah become desperate for more insight into its teachings. Kabbalists believe the Torah contains innumerable layers of meaning that must be uncovered over a lifetime of patient study. By falling in love with the words of the Torah, as the lover falls for the ravishing maiden, one sets out on the path toward religious wisdom.