Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Pursuing an illusion.”

When carrying out the search for our souls, we need to be conscious that our dreams and aspirations, even though these are essentially non-material, do not necessarily have anything to do with the soul.

Family, education, and various cultural resources, such as books, theater, and so on, are also at work within us and may appear in our thoughts.

Therefore, the emergence of new dreams or a longing for something new may not necessarily be spiritual in origin.

While it is possible to search within ourselves and find things that are not part of our ordinary reality, many of these are mere reflections of external reality or illusions that lodge themselves within us and are not part of the soul in any fundamental way.

It is possible, therefore, that one who modifies his way of life in some manner as a result of such input is merely realizing an extraneous dream, formed from thoughts and images that came to him from the outside and not from the soul.

Indeed, people frequently go off on an adventure in a distant place or break up their families, while in reality they are pursuing an illusion.

Even in cases in which the matters at stake are real, these modifications are not always appropriate for the particular individual who is pursuing them.

Therefore, even when we isolate ourselves or try to search within ourselves, we should take care not to confuse true, authentic reality with something that was transplanted from outside sources.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz