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Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The father-son relationship is superior to the bond of teacher-pupil.”

Two illustrations show the way in which each of the souls (Divine soul and Animal soul) attaches itself to God: father-son, and teacher-pupil.

The pupil does not bind himself to the very essence of the teacher.

He relates primarily to the learning, wisdom, and the support coming from the teacher, and these may be diverse in their effects.

In short, the connection is basically one of influence.

The connection between father and son, on the other hand, is one in which the bond is immutably fixed by nature, not dependent on anything else.

Nothing can change it; it is of the nature of “unity.”

Thus the connection between father and son is single and indivisible, even though their outer relations vary with time.

The relations between teacher and pupil, however, undergo alterations at the very core of their association and can even be severed, depending on the teacher’s degree of influence.

The connection of the Divine soul with God is more like that of father and son, changeless and constant, whereas the animal soul, being based on shifting preferences, can become any number of things, including a Divine soul.

The Divine soul can never become an animal soul, focused as it is so completely on one point.

To be sure, it can be in exile, but the basic relation to God cannot disappear.

To maintain that, in purely spiritual terms, the father-son relationship is superior to the bond of teacher-pupil is not what one expects.

But considering the fundamental essence of any bond, the father-son relationship may be lower in terms of give and take, but it is more fundamentally real for both of them because it is immutable and irretrievable.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz