Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Something to marvel at.”

There are in this world people with extraordinary gifts who are able to bring the opposed forces in their own souls into genuine harmony with each other, harmony that these forces energize rather than undermine.

But such abilities result not from following any particular teaching or path but from rare inborn attributes.

The latter are not unlike other sorts of native endowments—natural beauty, for example, which radiates from every movement and gesture and needs no artificial enhancement; or genius in a particular discipline, which is reflected in nearly total mastery.

People with such endowments do need to make a certain effort, but it is mainly to avoid spoiling what they already possess.

There are, likewise, rare cases of people especially gifted in the moral realm, and here too, the quality is not one that can be achieved by any sort of exertion.

Of course, many who are not particularly gifted are responsible for significant and even decisive achievements in this realm, but never without effort or by taking an easy way.

The extraordinarily talented are like rare works of nature—orchids or birds-of-paradise—whose character is something to marvel at and enjoy but not imitate.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz