Let My People Know

"One should recognize the perils involved in sanctity"


One can so ardently desire to be engaged in holy actions that the satisfaction of experiencing it becomes more important than the action. 

One cannot help getting some benefit from all the holiness one is dispensing, but, as Rabbi Akiva is reported to have said, it is perhaps better to wait until the recipient of one's charity resents you and heaps curses on you before feeling your own worth in the matter. 

The moral here is obviously not that there is a seemingly masochistic ingredient in the process of doing good. 

Rather it is that one should recognize the perils involved in sanctity. 

One may sincerely wish to do something very grand in the realm of the holy and at the same time to feel something of the grandeur of what one is doing. 

In this case, one is doing it for oneself, a sign that its origin is in the shell, for the klipah is always egocentric. 

The shell in fact can be defined as that which is constructed as a private world around the ego. 

When a person is not nullified before Torah, the Torah becomes an independent force not bound to Halachah, and thus severed, it allows for all sorts of interpretations, even the 
most brilliant, all of which end up as aspects of the elixir of death. 

Even if the sanctity of Torah and its Divine revelation is recognized, so long as one is engaged with only  the external facets of Torah, its visible and obviously ethical message, one is still missing the point. 

It is not the Divine Torah that thus engages one; it is something similar, that looks like it. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From In the Beginning. p. 205, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz