(Picture by Rabbi Dovid Sears courtesy of RabbiRiddle.com)
(Based on Meor Einyaim from R' Menachem Nachum from Chernobyl - Parshas Chukas)
Reb Nachum Chernobyler explains the first pasuk in Parshas Chukas (Bamidbar 19:2), " זֹאת חֻקַּת הַתּוֹרָה, אֲשֶׁר-צִוָּה יְהוָה לֵאמֹר: דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ פָרָה אֲדֻמָּה תְּמִימָה אֲשֶׁר אֵין-בָּהּ מוּם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-עָלָה עָלֶיהָ, עֹל." He explains that this pasuk is teaching that a person must attach his life-force to the light within the Torah. Where is this idea hinted at in the pasuk? The revealed Torah, consisting of letters, vocalizations, trop and crowns are the revealed portion of the Torah that we can have some natural human comprehension of. The light within the Torah, however, is one with Hashem and cannot be grasped with the natural human mind.
It is this illumination within the Torah that the Torah refers to as "Para," heifer. Why? Chazal say (in Pesachim 112a), "יותר ממה שהעגל רוצה לינק פרה רוצה להניק ," more than the calf wants to drink, the heifer wants to nurse [the calf]. This means that the desire of a giver to give is even greater than the desire of the receiver to receive. Hashem desires to give of Himself, the greatest good there is. So, the gift of His illumination within the Torah that He so desires to give is called by the name, "Para."
Therefore, the pasuk means, "You should take to yourself the aspect of Torah called Para, the light of Hashem that is within the Torah." It is called "temima," pure, because the light of the Torah, which was hidden away for the Tzaddikim at the beginning of time, is pure and virtually untouched, since the number of Tzadikim who have merited to ascend to that level are few and far between. That light, he says (based on Psichta Eicha Raba 2) has the power to bring a person back over to the good, which is something everyone wants. Therefore, when one learns Torah, he shouldn't just have in mind to learn the revealed meaning of the Torah. He should also daven before he learns that his chiyus (life-essence) be bound with the illumination of the Torah, which is actually the light of Hashem, so that he can thus truly be daveik with Hashem and will be returned to the good.
The Meor Einyaim, in his 4th piece in Parshas Shmos, also teaches about the Ohr within the Torah. He says that one cannot access this illumination within the Torah all at once. It is only revealed to the person little by little over time. However, he says that this deepest level of connection to the Torah, which is beyond its intellectual understanding, is only accessible to Yidden who are literal descendants of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov. However, Geirei Tzedik, converts, are unable to attain that same level. This statement is fully citated in the Zohar.
Now lest anyone reading this think that I or the Meor Einyaim are "anti-convert/Ger," let me assure you that I am not. In fact, I know that this is so because I, myself, am a Ger. I was megayer when I was 18 years old. I am sharing that for the purpose of lending, unnecessarily in my view, ethos to this difficult teaching of the Meor Einayim. At first, it bothered me. Why should I or any other Ger be able to attain any less of a level than any natural born Jew?
However, after thinking about this piece and re-reading it several times over the past couple of months, I've had a couple of thoughts about it. One thought is: Who said that being an actual child of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov has no value at all? If anyone who joins the Jewish people can be the same in every single respect, then what is the value of this special status? It seems that the very existence of that special parental relationship we have with our Avos indicates that it is somehow irreplaceable.
Also, I think the whole question comes from a krum place. We live in a society that is preoccupied with relative status. Who is better? Who is lower? Who is superior? Who is inferior? It was like that when America was a sexist and racist country. But that same relative status mindset informs the opposite extreme of political correctness today. Many Americans are so concerned with egalitarianism and sameness because they are unable to fathom that there can be differences between people (even differences of "higher" and "lower" in various areas of life) that do not imply superiority or inferiority. That is why, in America, "separate but equal" is found inherently unequal. This is not so with the Torah however, There are thousands of gradations of higher and lower kedusha betweem people in all areas of life. Some people have a higher level of access to kedusha in some areas. Others might have access to higher levels in other areas. However, Hashem created everyone for a very specific reason and not everyone has to be destined for the exact same thing. If Gerim had the same tachlis in life as born-Jews, then one or the other of them was created superfluously, which is obviously not the case. At any rate, these are some of my reflections on this initially difficult part of the Meor Einyaim. May we all merit to access the light of Hashem within the Torah, each on our own level!
(Rav Bentzion Twersky, the son of Rav Michel Twersky, goes through this piece in Meor Einayim in a very nice way on two mp3 shiurim available here and here)