Let My People Know

"The Torah is not a narrow domain of holiness"


By definition, the way of the Torah is not religious in the strict sense of addressing only that part  of a person's life concerned only with relations between the human and the Divine. 

The Torah is not a narrow domain of holiness a man may enter or leave as he chooses while the domain of ordinary existence remains neutral territory, where God does not interfere much, and where in any case there is not much point in trying to relate to Him.

Since the Torah is the blueprint of the world, it regulates the whole and cannot be confined to any particular part.

True, its directives are not all on the same level of practicality; nevertheless, its instructions and guidelines and modes of relating are valid for all situations in life. 

The more one becomes identified with the Torah, the more does its significance expand beyond particular circumstance. 

Rather than constituting itself an ideal for the monastic life, say, or a guide or for any other sort of separation from the reality of the world, Torah works in precisely the opposite fashion, introducing more content and meaning into the trivial details of the life of the world. 

One finds the Torah significant in every aspect of community, commerce, agriculture, and industry, in the life of feeling and love, in relations between the sexes–down to the most minute aspects of living, like buttoning one's shoes or lying down to sleep. 

What is surprising is that with the great quantity and range of its laws, what to do and what not to do, Torah still does not really limit the activities of an individual in any field of endeavor. 

That is to say, there is no field of action or thought which, in principle, the Torah repudiates. 

The Law, in general and in detail, theoretically and practically, mostly adds detail to action, qualifies modes of behavior, imposes new modes, directs the conduct of one's daily business from waking to sleeping–the supposition being that if all these actions are properly defined and prepared, then the guidance of the Law need not and does not change their essence, but adds a quality to them.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From “Torah,” in The Thirteen Petalled Rose by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz