Let My People Know

"When I busy myself with Torah, it doesn't matter what the physical trappings of the book are"


We think of the concrete and the material as though it were something absolute, because our grasp of being and nonbeing is that it is identical with reality and the absence of reality. 

Whereas, being is actually that which has independence, whose existence does not depend on something else. 

And nonbeing, or nothing, is that which is the very opposite. 

The fact that one sees matter as the primary aspect of the real makes for a world that is actually at a distance from reality and that is inappropriately called Being.

Therefore, when we speak of the nullification of Being, it does not mean taking that which is and smashing it. 

It signifies rather that the less the I assumes priority in the conscious mind, the more there is a nullification of Being.

In response to a question concerning the idea of "Unio¬mystica"–the total obliteration of oneself–it may be said that it is not given to us to accomplish it in this world. 

And in Judaism, whatever can be known of such "Union" exists only in one condition—within the mitzvah. 

True, there are those who think that only a person who reaches a degree of unio-¬mystica can truly fulfill the mitzvot.

The explanation is that the mitzvah is itself Divine unity. 

And the illustration is given of someone who is clasped by the king, held in his embrace for a moment–in which case it doesn't matter what clothes He is wearing; it is the arm of the king that counts. 

Just as, when I busy myself with Torah, it doesn't matter what the physical trappings of the book are. 

The essential thing is the word of God that comes through. 

And as soon as Torah enters my mind, I become united with it.

Thus, too, what is the difference between greatness and smallness in a person? 

It is a matter of the degree of conscious¬ness of that which is happening at the moment. 

When a person performs a mitzvah, he is united in some way or other with God. 

Which seriously raises another question: To what extent can a person overleap the gap between man and God? 

For if a human being does make this leap, he is no longer human. 

The answer to this question is that such a "unity" can exist for man, only in terms of a higher aspect of his humanity. 

It is as though after death, a man were to be confronted with an alternative:

Whether he wants or doesn't want Paradise. 

Those ordinary small persons who want Paradise for themselves are those who wish to have the Divine, certainly, but at a safe distance. 

Only the great ones among men are ready to renounce Paradise in their wish to be absorbed and extinguished in God.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From “The Nullification of Reality,” p. 41, in The Sustaining Utterance by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz