155. Rabbi Acha was with Rabbi Elazar one night after midnight and they were occupied with the Torah. Rabbi Elazar opened with, "for He is your life, and the length of your days..." (Devarim 30:20). Above all the precepts the Holy One, blessed be He, decrees when they entered the land of Yisrael, was the decree OF THE STUDY of Torah. The reason is that the Shechinah settles in the land solely with Torah. Nor does it settle above save with Torah, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN.
156. For thus did my father say, NAMELY RABBI SHIMON: The Oral Torah, MALCHUT, is known only through the Written Torah, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN. The Shechinah does not settle above except through the Torah STUDIED below. As long as the Torah is with Her, the Shechinah can be present in the world. This is the meaning of, "for He is your life, and the length of your days that you may dwell in the land." The land in general IS MALCHUT. But if it is not so, but the study of Torah IS NEGLECTED, it cannot survive, as it is written, "why does the land perish... And Hashem says, Because they have forsaken My Torah" (Yirmeyah 9:11-12).
157. While they were sitting, Rabbi Shimon lowered his head and said, It is surely so. I have found this secret in the book of Rav Hamnuna Saba, who explained the following verse as referring to the Congregation of Yisrael, WHICH IS MALCHUT: "her food, her clothing, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish" (Shemot 21:10). NAMELY, BY STUDYING THE TORAH, THE UNION AND PLENTY ARE NOT DIMINISHED FROM MALCHUT. If it is withheld from her, it is written, "she shall go free without money" (Ibid. 11), as in, "Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, with which I have put her away" (Yeshayah 50:1), and, "You were sold for naught; and you shall be redeemed without money" (Yeshayah 52:3). Whoever withholds Torah from MALCHUT is like one who takes away the husband from his wife and withholds her away from him, BECAUSE HE CAUSES THE DEPARTURE OF THE SUPERNAL TORAH, WHICH IS ZEIR ANPIN, HER HUSBAND, and she remains as a widow, though not AN ACTUAL widow. This is the meaning of, "how is she become like a widow" (Eichah 1:1), yet not a widow.
158. They sat and dealt with the Torah until daylight. With daylight they rose to go. While they were walking they saw a man walking on the way with his head covered. They approached him but he was muttering with his lips and did not respond at all to them. Rabbi Elazar said, Surely he takes counsel from his Master, NAMELY, HE RECITES THE WAYFARER'S PRAYER. Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Acha sat down and prayed, while that man stood in another place. When they finished praying, they went on their way and that man slipped off from them. Rabbi Elazar said, This man is either a fool or his customs are improper. He said, Let us be occupied with the Torah, since it is time TO BE OCCUPIED WITH THE TORAH.