120. "And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and that pit was empty; there was no water in it" (Beresheet 37:24). Rabbi Yehuda opened the discussion with the verse, "The Torah of Hashem is perfect, restoring the soul" (Tehilim 19:8). Men should endeavor to study the Torah as much as possible, for whoever does so gains life in this world and in the World to Come, and he merits both worlds. Even he who strives to study the Torah, but does it for worldly reasons, merits reward in this world and escapes Judgment in the next.
121. Come and behold, it is written, "Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand are riches and honor" (Mishlei 3:16). "Length of days," refers to that person who endeavors to study the Torah for its own sake, for he has length of days in a world of long days, SIGNIFYING THE EVERLASTING WORLD. These days, which are found in the everlasting world, are certainly days. THIS MEANS THAT THEY ARE SURELY GOOD AND WORTHY DAYS. In addition, there is the certainty of sacredness above, NAMELY THE HOPED-FOR REWARD. A man who trusts in this world should study the Torah diligently to be happy in the EVERLASTING world. "And in her left hand are riches and honor," for he receives good reward and peace in this world.
122. Whoever studies the Torah for its own sake will find that when he passes from the world, the Torah goes before him with proclamations and protects him from approaching accusers. When the body lies in the grave, it guards him and when the soul departs to ascend to its place, it precedes the soul. Many CLOSED gates are thrown open before the Torah until it brings THE SOUL to its place. THE TORAH stands by that man when the dead are resurrected, and speaks in his favor.
123. "When you walk, it shall lead you; when you lie down, it shall keep you and when you awake, it shall talk with you" (Mishlei 6:22). "When you walk, it shall lead you," refers to THE TORAH THAT GOES BEFORE HIM WHEN HE DIES as we explained. "When you lie down, it shall keep you," refers to the interval when the body lies in the grave, for at that time the body is judged and sentenced and the Torah acts in its defense. "And when you awake, it shall talk with you," refers to the time at which the dead rise TO LIFE from the dust. "It shall talk with you," means it will speak in your defense.
124. Rabbi Elazar quoted the verse, "It shall talk with you." What does this mean? HE ANSWERS, It means that although they have just risen from the dust, they will remember the Torah THEY STUDIED BEFORE THEIR DEATH. They will know all they studied before departing from the world. It penetrates inside them and speaks in their innermost parts. THIS MEANS THAT IT DOES NOT COME BACK SLOWLY, AS IS THE NATURE OF THOUGHT, BUT AT ONCE, AS IN DRESSING, AS IS THE NATURE OF THE VISCERA. MEANING?
125. And everything shall be clearer than it was before HE DIED, for whatever he did not grasp well THEN, whatever he strove to understand yet did not successfully grasp, is now clear in his innermost parts. And the Torah speaks within him. This is the meaning of the verse, "And when you awake, it shall talk with you." Rabbi Yehuda said that whoever studied the Torah diligently in this world deserves to be occupied with it in the World to Come.
126. Come and behold, a man who did not have the merit to be occupied with the Torah in this world walks in darkness. When he passes from the world, he is put in the lowest place in Gehenom, where no one pities him, a place described as a "gruesome pit," a "miry clay," as it is written, "He brought me up also out of the gruesome pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my footsteps" (Tehilim 40:3).
127. It is therefore written of he who does not study the Torah in this world, but besmirches himself with the filth of this world, "And they took him, and cast him into a pit" (Beresheet 37:24), into Gehenom, where those who do not study the Torah are sentenced. "And the pit was empty" (Ibid.); it is empty, because there was no water in it - THAT IS, TORAH, CALLED 'WATER.'
128. Come and behold the punishment for neglecting the study of the Torah. Yisrael were exiled from the Holy Land, only for being removed from and leaving the Torah. This is explained by the verse, "Who is the wise man, that may understand this? Why does the land perish ...? Because they have forsaken My Torah which I set before them" (Yirmeyah 9:11-12). Rabbi Yosi said, "Therefore My people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge" (Yeshayah 5:13), NAMELY, OF THE TORAH.
129. Hence, everything is based on the existence of the Torah, and the world only endures by means of the Torah, which sustains the worlds above and below. As it is written, "If my Covenant be not day and night, it were as if I had not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth ..." (Yirmeyah 33:25).