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Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Each human being must decide”

Man’s question should not be how to escape the perpetual struggle but rather what form to give it, at what level to wage it.

The tension of existence is to be found even in a molecule of inarticulate matter; in man, as in all living creatures, there are the tensions of biological growth and change.

He can live his life and carry on his struggle entirely on that plane.

If he does, that, too, will be the plane on which his spiritual life is lived, for even at its basest, human life cannot be lived without consciousness.

At whatever level man struggles, there will his consciousness be involved.

That differentiates the saint from the lowly creature of instinct, cunning, and cruelty is nor the life-tension within him but the level at which his conscious being joins the struggle he must wage for survival.

The choice between good and evil is preceded by an even more, fundamental choice: whether to give spiritual or moral expression to the contradiction inherent in one’s humanness or to try to ignore that contradiction.

Difficulty and tension, bitterness and pain, are to be found as much in the ash heap as in the heavens.

Each human being must decide where to take his stand and fight his battle.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz