Let My People Know

"The higher delight"


Delight has its own logic and its own unreasoning ecstasy. 

So that when we say "He who sanctifies us with His Commandments," we are thereby emphasizing the utter uniqueness and exclusive, blissful quality of sanctity. 

Holiness is completely separate from man; it cannot be put on like a garment.

One can only be wrapped in it by a Divine sanction. 

God remains apart forever. 

Unlike physical substance that upon contact usually leaves a mark–a residue, such as a liquid that wets what it spills upon, or a chemical reaction of whatever sort–the holy does not make any impression. 

It cannot even be put on like a cloak. 

Yet we say that we are sanctified by His Commandments (mitzvot).
God transfers something that we ourselves cannot acquire or touch. 

It is the higher delight. 

The mitzva itself is grasped and performed, of course, but it is only a vessel that contains the holiness, which is another aspect of delight. 

The mitzva thus has no meaning in itself.

Even though there may well be mitzvot that appear to have objective value, it is only so on the surface. 

The mitzvot are not objective in the sense of actions that should be done; they are real and have meaning only in the doing by a specific person. 

Whatever results from the mitzva is also only an immaterial consequence, it is not part of the ritual action that remains restricted to the individual human being's performance. 

The mitzva cannot be a mechanical action, therefore.

It is not a matter of getting a thing done. 

If one were to go for a stroll on the way to town and get picked up by a vehicle, one would get to town, but the mitzva of a stroll could not be said to have been performed. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From "Implications of the Menorah" in The Candle of God by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz