Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “What is wrong with permanence?”

The uprooting of permanence, the commemoration and the symbolic act of return to the wilderness, raise the question:

What is wrong with permanence?

Is there virtue in exile and in wandering that obliges us to remind ourselves of this virtue and hold fast to it?

It appears that what requires examination and a different perspective is not the life of permanence itself, but rather various aspects of thought and feeling that accompany such a life.

After some time, a nation settled on its own land feels not only a bond with the land and ownership over it, but also confidence that things will continue as they are forever.

Once a person builds a permanent residence, once he sows fields and plants vineyards, he begins to feel that his dwelling in this place is everlasting and that he cannot be uprooted from it.

Permanence, then, leads to complacency, smugness, and carefreeness.

These qualities prevent a person from perceiving dangers and threats, whether external or internal.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz