The inner dimension of the Torah is an integral part of the Torah and its commandments. Indeed, it is one aspect of the Torah, the body of the Torah being the law, and the soul of the Torah being Kabbalah. Therefore, ideally, serious students learn both the law of the Torah and Kabbalah simultaneously.
A body cannot live without a soul. The soul is sent from Above to enter the body, to cleave, in union, to the body in the mystery of life. In Kabbalah, the union of body and soul is called Ma’aseh Merkavah, (“the Workings of the Chariot”), and is considered the deepest mystery of the Torah. In order to access this most secret of secrets one has to study both the soul and the body of the Torah.
There are periods of life, of course, when one emphasizes one more than the other. These are personal and particular issues for which no rules can be outlined. In general, for all, there has to be equilibrium, balance, and union. We have to devote ourselves to study the laws of the Torah and to the wisdom and reasoning behind the laws. Simultaneously, in order to meet God, the Giver of the laws, we have to study Kabbalah.
Learning Torah restructures our thinking processes according to the God-given logic inherent in the Torah. The Torah’s innate thought-patterns and frames of reference become assimilated into our intellects and reflected in our lives.
Rather than proceeding in a linear fashion as is common in Western culture, the study of Torah and Kabbalah proceeds in a circular fashion. One learns and then reviews again and again, each time adding a new, deeper layer of knowledge.
In this manner of study, the Written Torah, the Talmud, the codes of Jewish law, and Kabbalah, are seen as a single all-inclusive whole. No separation can be made between the legal dimension of Torah study and practice–the Halachah, (“the Way”)–and its mystic, spiritual counterpart. The texts of Talmudic law are intrinsically united with the mystic teachings of the Kabbalah. Similarly, the Kabbalah cannot be studied without devotion to the Talmud, its commentaries, and the legal codes.
Thus, a student of Torah law must realize that an inner mystical dimension exists in even the minutest aspect of Torah observance. Conversely, a student excited by the power of Kabbalah’s mystical teachings must realize that the fullest expression of these teachings comes in the day-to-day observance of Torah law.