Each person’s understanding of Torah will be deepened and broadened, unfolded into its many layers. * The sorrowful angels surrounding this sanctified gathering regret that the Torah was not only given to humans but will renew itself in unimaginable ways through them.
The Midrash opens with an arresting image, stating: "The Holy One, blessed be He, will sit in His study hall, and the righteous of the world will sit before Him..." Instantly, one is led to ponder: What Torah will be the subject of study in this celestial Beit Midrash? We are acutely aware of the Midrashic assertion that a "new Torah will emerge from Me" (Midrash Rabbah, Numbers 14:12). Can we assume that the study here pertains to this "New Torah"?
Interestingly, the Midrash is meticulous in stating that "to each and every one they will give the light of His countenance according to the Torah within them." This depiction of individualized Torah experience isn't merely poetic; it offers us a glimpse into the nature of this "New Torah." Each person’s understanding of Torah will be deepened and broadened, unfolded into its many layers, in a personalized manner.
If we connect the dots, the "New Torah" that will emerge in the era of Moshiach is not necessarily a completely novel set of instructions, but rather a fully expanded and revealed understanding of the Torah we have always known. It is the Torah as seen "through the light of His countenance," the ultimate realization of the innermost dimensions of Torah, revealed to each individual based on their unique spiritual makeup.
And what about the sorrowful angels surrounding this sanctified gathering? The text continues: "And the angels will stand around the people of Israel and weep in their hearts..." These aren't merely tears of lament; they are tears of regret for not being part of this "New Torah." When the Torah was initially given, the angels protested, arguing that it should remain in the heavens (Shabbat 88b). Yet now, they regret that the Torah was not only given to humans but will renew itself in unimaginable ways through them.
Yet the question begs, why now? Why would the Torah, immutable in its holiness, transform into something 'new'? Is this not an undermining of its eternal relevance? The answer lies in the union of two realities: earthly and heavenly, transient and eternal. It is through the labor in Torah and mitzvot in this physical world that the Torah can ascend and unfold into a "New Torah." This ascent reaches its peak in the Messianic era, where the corporeal and spiritual become seamlessly united, enabling the emergence of the "New Torah."
In sum, the narrative in the Midrash isn’t merely describing the reward in Olam Haba; it’s foreshadowing a time when the Torah will unfold itself in an unprecedented manner. It provides a nuanced framework to understand what it means when we say a "New Torah" will emerge in the era of Moshiach, a Torah that will be deeply personal yet universally transformative, eternally unchanging yet newly revealed.
This fluid interplay of ideas, anchored by the text of Midrash, allows us to grasp not just the future of Torah study but also the transformative power of Torah in shaping that future. And thus, we continue to await eagerly for the era where these insights will turn into our living reality.