Rabbi Steinsaltz: “The smile or the groan”


Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz writes:

In mathematics, one can speak of an absolute number.

Besides this, one can determine the power or size of a specific number by adding zeroes or by giving the specific number a root or power sign.

So too, in the moral life, one can relate to each action by itself–either it is a transgression or a mitzvah.

And its power or significance is something that is measured by what one gives to it in terms of intention, inner effort, joy, or participation.

In performing an act of charity, for example, it is a matter of what it has cost one to obtain the money, the quality of the spiritual accompaniment to the act, and so forth.

The differences between the levels of charity are far more than in the value of the money.

The coin remains the same.

It is a matter of the smile or the groan with which it is given.

Thus, there is a meaningful distinction between body and soul, between intention and act.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From The Long Shorter Way, “Intention.”

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