Let My People Know

"Human beings are amphibians"

“We human beings are amphibians.

We are not like frogs, but we are amphibious.

We live in two worlds: the mater­ial and the spiritual, and sometimes on the borderline be­tween them.

We are aware of the differences, just as the difference between dry land and water is clear even to the smallest frog.

However, although we jump continuously from one existence to the other, we are often unaware of the jump.

Although we live in two worlds, one of them seems to be the real world, the real existence, while the other seems much more hazy, not quite as real.

The material world is obvious.

We have material bod­ies, and we go about living our lives within the world of matter.

With all our senses, we can perceive directly only aspects of that material world. We tend to feel that the material life we live is the “real” existence—True Reality.

We smell scents and hear sounds, and our sense of sight is our main way of understanding the world, but the ulti­mate way in which we verify the existence of things is by touching them.

We equate real with tangible.

Things that we cannot grasp in our hands are less real to us.

Although we know—either from books or from direct experience—that most things, even in the physical-material world, cannot be perceived through our senses (from radioactive rays to microscopic germs), still, this does not change our strong, primitive notion that reality is that which we can sense.

Because we can touch it, the material world is real.

In a different way, we are also participants in another, nonmaterial world.

This abstract, nontangible world is certainly not in the same category of reality, yet it is no less real.”

Just as we inhabit the material world, we also exist in a spiritual world.

Unfortunately, the word “spiritual” has acquired mystical and supernatural connotations, and is used too frequently by all kinds of unreliable people, from bleary-eyed old ladies speaking about spirituality to quacks selling spiritual medicines and spiritual workshops that will make us wise, beautiful, successful, and thin.

Since such “spirituality” seems to range from wishy-washy to clinically crazy, it is not at all astonishing that some peo­ple keep a safe distance.

The spiritual world we live in is very close and real. It is not the realm of ghosts and disembodied beings, where powers and vibrations (whatever they are) roam.

The spir­itual world is, first and foremost, all the things we relate to through our minds.

This includes our thoughts and emotions, love, hate, and envy, the ability to read, to en­joy music, or to solve equations, to know that we exist, and to relate to others.

All these are intangible—they can­not be touched or weighed.

However, they are common­place, direct experiences, and they are as real as anything can be.

All these together make up our second world, the spiritual one.”

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

Simple Words by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz