Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The vital significance of the smallest details of the law and the ritual.”

If there is a normative Jewish theology, it is the integration of the two (never really separate) approaches—the Kabbalah of the Ari and the Shulhan Arukh of Rabbi Joseph Caro.

This was possible because unlike most mystical schools in the world, which somehow stressed their freedom from the constraints of formal religion (even when they continued to remain within it), Kabbalah mysticism did the opposite.

It always stressed the vital significance of the smallest details of the law and the ritual.

The kabbalists even added weight and meaning to the formal practices in a thousand ways.

And when it came to such issues of theoretical theology as the Thirteen Articles of Faith, they simply put different emphasis on the same words.

To be sure, they had their disagreements with some of Maimonides’ ideas

Nevertheless, they did not let disagreement develop into friction and antagonism.

Everything in the tradition was somehow incorporated into the kabbalistic framework with a certain broad spiritual comprehensiveness.

What is astonishing, at least to the rational thinking of the Western world, is that there were no great contradictions, that the two modes of religiosity worked together as well as they did.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz