Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The basic desire for knowledge.”

Some inclinations are desires of the soul.

These are fleeting for some, but become intense and life-transforming for others.

One of these is the basic desire for knowledge.

This isn’t referring to what drives people to spend their time at school in order to train to work in a certain area, since there is often no component of desire or passion in such activity, which is often performed under duress.

Rather, we are talking about the desire for knowledge for its own sake and not the desire for knowledge to fulfill any kind of need.

The desire to know, itself, does not have a predetermined moral value.

There are people whose thirst for knowledge will lead them to holy concerns, while others may dedicate their lives to accumulating more and more knowledge about the physical world and everything it contains.

Sometimes the desire to know is focused on unimportant matters, such as soccer scores in the previous century, or even on matters that are clearly nefarious, whether in order to utilize the information or merely to enjoy the evil feeling accompanying such knowledge.

In fact, there is an element of curiosity that exists to some extent within every one of us, and such curiosity can turn into an obsession, whether it is for beauty, music, games, or many other things.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz