Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: ” Textbooks for angels cannot teach people.”


Rabbi Steinsaltz writes:

Many Jewish books on morals written during certain periods are masterpieces in themselves but lack the elements of true humanism.

The greatness of these books is lost because the average man, full of every human feeling, cannot relate such books to his life; they often do not even hint at certain moral questions.

You could study a classic book on morals and not find anything about love, social relations, work, physical life, et cetera.

True, these books are good books, but they are good only for that part of man engaged in religious issues.

These books are textbooks for angels; they cannot teach people.

It was this contraction of religion into purely religious problems that caused the freezing of every human emotion and led to conservatism and, to some extent, self-deception and hypocrisy.

For if all religious subjects were so detached from everyday life, they would become merely frozen conservative forms that did not have any true meaning for anyone. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From “Human Holiness” in The Strife of the Spirit


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