Let My People Know

"The secret of Creation"

The material world is not inferior, matter in itself is not lower or worse, and in a sense the physical world may even be considered the height of Creation. 

It is the marvel of Creation for the paradoxical reason that the very existence of matter is a condition that seems to obscure the Divine, and thus could only be the result of a special intention on the part of the Infinite. 

Matter is a sort of standing wave between the manifestation of God and the hiddenness of God; it is defined by its limitations. 

To retain its separate and independent existence, infinite force has to be exerted on every particle. 

Hence, every human action that disposes matter in the direction of holiness has a qualitative significance far beyond anything like it in the world of spirituality. 

What is more, since the world of matter constitutes the focal point of all the other worlds, every movement, every slightest budge of things in the rigid realm of matter has an effect beyond any similar motion in the realm of the spirit and even in realms above the spirit. 

And thus the mitzvah, the law of the Torah which deals so much with matter–with the effort to exert influence on the physical world, to change it, to divert it toward holiness, even though matter itself seems to be so limited and restricted–is intended to release vast forces in all the worlds and to create waves of movement rising from our world to higher worlds without end. 

Which is why it may be said that a genuine holy action of any kind performed in the domain of matter, the raw material of substance, has far greater possible meaning than anything performed only in an intermediate domain of thought or emotion. 

For the Torah and the mitzvot concerned with the physical world relate to this world as though it were the secret of Creation, the essence of the fulfillment of the divine idea. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From The Thirteen Petalled Rose by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz