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The Way of Torah

The Way of Torah

“The Way of Torah” is an impressive English translation of not one classic sefer by the legendary Ramchal - Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (best known for his mussar or ethical masterpiece – “Mesillas Yesharim,”) but actually three important works that are now available from the Feldheim Torah Classics Library in one volume (the Rohr Edition.) The unifying aspect of these three works is that they combine to offer the Gemara or Talmudical student the guidance of the Ramchal on how best to prepare oneself for the task of trying to learn the wisdom of the Oral Torah, without which it is impossible to truly understand the Written Torah and hence Judaism as we know it today. “Derech Hakodesh” or “The Way of Torah” consists of the Ramchal’s trilogy – “Derech Tevunos” (“The Ways of Reason”); Sefer HaHigayon (“The Book of Logic”); and “Sefer HaMelitzah (“The Book of Words.”) In his general introduction at the beginning of the trilogy – “The Way of Torah,” Rabbi David Sackton touches on a theological difficulty by noting “The wisdom of the Torah is infinite as is the wisdom of the Creator, blessed be He, who looked into the Torah and created the world, and the angels thought that this Torah is surely beyond human reach. There is indeed a riddle here, for how can this infinite wisdom be contained in a bounded and limited vessel, as the 79,976 words of the Written Law, or the 2,711 pages of the Oral Law? “The only way to answer this riddle is to know the true value and meaning of this power of speech which makes Man unique in all the creation. When a person knows this wisdom of words, genuinely hearing them and effectively communicating through them, then, for him, there is truly life and depth of understanding in every sentence. The words of the Torah become a precious instrument in his hands, through which he comes to understand the wisdom of the Living G-d, may His name be blessed.” Until the efforts of Rabbi Sackton and his chavrusa and colleague Rabbi Tscholkowsky, beginning with their translation of “The Ways of Reason,” in 1989 and “The Book of Logic” in 1995 and finally “The Book of Words” last year (2014,) the wisdom of the Ramchal on the study of the Talmud was a secret reserved for those scholars fluent in lashon Hakodesh (Hebrew) or who were fortunate enough like Rabbis Sackton and Tscholkowsky to have been taught the Ramchal’s formulas on learning the Talmud by teachers well versed in these important seforim. Both translators learned and later taught in Yerushalayim’s Diaspora Yeshiva where they were greatly influenced by their Rosh Hayeshiva – Rabbi Mordecai Goldstein. Also in his general introduction, Rabbi Sackton promises the diligent reader that “we will learn in The Ways of Reason about ideas as they are formulated into statements, which help us gather together our knowledge. We will learn about the functions of the intellect and how abstract concepts are represented in speech when we turn to the Book of Logic. Lastly, we will learn about the ability of words to direct and influence the will in the Book of Words. “Once we are able to see the greater whole composed of these parts, then the Ramchal will have indeed given us the foundations of the power of speech in general, and the keys to the great wisdom that can be taken from the words of our Rabbis of blessed memory, in particular. Their special manner of speech, in all their exactness and depth, is now unlocked for us, just as it has been faithfully passed down from generation to generation.” As is common with all of the seforim in The Torah Classics Library published over the decades by Feldheim Publishers, the right side displays the original Hebrew text while the facing left side offers the English translation along with very helpful annotations that offer deeper explanations of the Ramchal’s guide towards better understanding the often difficult sugyas of the Gemora. Even if you read just one page of the Hebrew text and the English translation a day, you will be able to complete the study of all three volumes in the Ramchal’s “The Way of Torah” trilogy in less than a year. And of course, one could just read the English text. In addition to the translated text, Rabbi Sackton has included helpful organizational charts, glossary and step-by-step learning skills “The Way of Torah” definitely if studied carefully should open new vistas of the Ramchal to the student of the Gemaras or even for one who has hesitated until now to jump into the Yam or Sea of the Talmud.