Midrash tells us that when a child forms in his mother’s womb, an Angel teaches him Torah. However, once the child is born to the world, the angel pats him on his mouth and the child forgets it all – this pat leaves a mark on our top lip – the one you can probably see in this lovely picture.
There are many questions surrounding this mashal, and unfortunately I can’t address them all, but there are a few points that I wanted to mention.
- We always say that a person does “tshuva” – i.e. he returns to Hashem. Why returns? Because we were attached to HaShem before our soul descended to this world! So what caused us to get separated then? Fair question! Baal HaSulam teaches us that there is no distance in spirituality and thus, the distance between two objects is function of equality of their qualities. The similar they are – the closer they are to each other. When they completely align – two objects become one, and this is what we call attachment – “dvekus” to HaShem. So going back to our lovely Angel for a moment. When person studies Torah and Kabbalah, [if he does it right of course] he feels inner pleasure (that’s as much as I could possibly express it in words, as no words can really describe what one feels when he studies). This pleasure is of interesting origin – it’s not a pleasure of intellectual achievement, but a pleasure of reconnecting with its own soul – touching the knowledge that we already have – we just need to reach out – and here we are. It is also said that when a person dies the first thing that he sees is a familiar “face” – he is confused for a moment but then he recognizes it – it’s the Angel that taught him Torah in his mother’s womb.
- One of the things that might be interesting to observe here is the fact that Angel pats child on his mouth. Why mouth? Wouldn’t it make more sense to pat someone on the head, so the brain forgets it all? Reasonable question – isn’t it? Midrash explains us, that once we are born into this world, our brain is divided into two parts – inner and outer. Outer part is what receives information from our five senses, processes it and feeds to our brain. While the inner part is what still connects us to Divine – this part is called Daat (sometimes it’s drawn in Ten Sefiros between Bina and Hochma). So while we’re in mother’s womb, Daat dominates, and thus we can absorb Divine, but once outer mind kicks in, it surrounds our inner part with five senses which limit everything we see around us into definitive objects. Everything that we see/hear/touch/etc has to have a limit – we can’t grasp the concept of infinity anymore. Our outer mind is like a camera – it can take pictures of everything outside us, but can’t take a picture of itself – it can’t look within itself – it can only react to external. And it’s therefore on the mouth that the Angel pats us – as the words we use are of finite essence and thus cannot be combined with the knowledge of Divine – the infinite.