Let My People Know

Rabbi Steinsaltz: "It will become evident that we are asleep and dreaming."

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz writes:

We note that the Jewish people has contributed a relatively large number of its best youth to the various revolutionary movements of the last century.

In a way, this is an expression of Shechinah in exile.

The relation to the Shechinah, or the Divine spark of freedom (or as someone jokingly said, the “Messiah complex of the Jew”), not finding an outlet in the worship of God, was manifested in an opposite direction, in indifference or even in antagonism to God.

Driven by sincere love for humanity and a purity of purpose that was not far from holiness, there was an ironic likeness between these revolutionaries and their old-fashioned fathers who lived exclusively according to the Torah.

It was simply that with them the Divine spark, the Shechinah, operated in an alien environment, in Exile. 

At the same time, there remains a certain aspect of the soul that does not go into exile.

It continues to exist unimpaired, without submitting to an alien element.

It may be said to be that which is asleep when the rest of the soul is alienating itself.

As it is written, “I sleep, but my heart waketh” (Song of Songs 5:2). 

This interpretation of the Exile views the situation as a dream state.

And when God effects the restoration of Zion to its land, then it will become evident that we are asleep and dreaming.

For in sleep, life continues.

The spark of holiness is present even though it is unable to rise to conscious expression.

Thus, a person can feel that he is still a Jew in spite of the fact that all his words and actions are anti-Jewish.

Sometimes, out of an excessive zeal for holiness, of whatever sort, a person commits horrendous crimes.

And this can be in a state of absence of the Shechinah in which the Divine spark is asleep. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz