Let My People Know

"We must give gifts to the poor on Purim"


We can understand a computer on many levels. 

The most fundamental level, the theory of how the computer operates, is extremely complex and requires specialized expertise that very few people are able to master. 

But on more superficial levels, one can, with a minimum of mental ability, achieve a certain mastery of the computer. 

Say that we wish that the computer should multiply a two-digit number to the power of six. 

The dynamics of this operation are beyond the understanding of the vast majority of people making the calculation on the computer, but the computer has an operating system that translates this process into a simple problem that most everyone can solve: Which keys do I punch?

In a similar way, the Torah is incomprehensible at its elemental level, but a great part of it translates into deeds and rules, do's and don'ts, that anyone can relate to. 

Were the Torah to remain in the supernal worlds, as abstract chokhmah, it could not relate to the ordinary person.

But when the Torah successively reformulates itself to the point that, for example, it instructs that we must give gifts to the poor on Purim, everyone knows what to do. 

One need not master the entire array of issues, from the most abstract essence of this law to the final rulings in the Shulchan Aruch (Why "gifts"? What is the definition of "gift"? How much would a "gift" be? and so on). 

All one needs to do is give or receive money on Purim.

Thus, the Torah links the infinite to everyday life. 

It stretches upward to infinity and extends downward, step by endless step, to a level that anyone can relate to at any time, expressing the divine wisdom within the context of our reality. 

And our reality is a reality graspable by the body—a reality with which the body can build an involved physical relationship—so that the soul that dwells and operates within the body can experience it, identify with it, and fuse with it. 

So the Torah, while being the infinite divine wisdom, is at the same time also definitive and intelligible to man."

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From Opening the Tanya, p. 15, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz