According to the above, it is clearly understood that concentration, in and of itself, can only act as a vessel for understanding. This is as stated, “If there is no Da’at, there is no Binah” (Pirke Avot). It is clear, that in order to have any insight, whether into a specific field of study or whether into the nature of reality, it can only come about through contemplation and analysis. Concentration alone, without content, cannot achieve this. This is because concentration can only act as an instrument to arrive at understanding.
Da’at constitutes the interest, focus and attachment to the subject, to the exclusion of all else. This can be gleaned from the meaning of the verse, “And Adam knew Eve – VeHaAdam Yada et Chava etc. And she gave birth to a son”. Da’at is usually translated as being “knowledge”, but as we see from the above verse, Da’at means the interest and attachment to something. It is quite a simple matter that a person who does not have interest in a subject will not be able to concentrate on it and will have difficulty understanding it clearly. From this it is clear that concentration is only like a vessel to hold the understanding.
Likewise, a person who does concentrate, but not on any specific subject, such as the “concentration” practiced in many eastern meditations, will not gain any true insight into any subject at all and certainly not into the true nature of reality. Since there is no content, all he has is the empty vessel of concentration. We can be sure that any “insights” that he may have, are nothing more than false imaginations and delusions. This is analogous to a person who claims to have learned medicine simply by sitting and meditating on a mantra for 10 years. Certainly, no one in their right mind would go to him for medical treatment.
Now, Da’at (concentration) also has the three dimensions of length, breadth and depth. For example there are people who have a short attention span and others who have a longer attention span. Some people can concentrate with great intensity, while others may be easily distracted. The difference between deep concentration and shallow concentration is similar to the difference between the ability of a child to concentrate as opposed to the concentration of an adult. Now, the three dimensions of Da’at are related to each other. For example, a person who cannot concentrate deeply will tend to have a short attention span. In contrast, a person with deep concentration will tend to have a long and wide attention span.