Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Kabbalah is a kind of a commentary on the mitzvot.”

“One of the differences between mysticism in general and Jewish mysticism in particular is that contrary to all other forms Jewish mysticism is very non-mystical, very bound to the law.

Kabbalah is a kind of a commentary on the mitzvot, on the meaning of the mitzvot.

The feeling, the enjoyment, and the result are not entirely connected.

For example, sometimes the sexual act, creating life, is enjoyable; sometimes it is less enjoyable.

The enjoyment has no real connection with either the fruitfulness or with the meaning of the process.

Some mystical things that are practiced are a kind of a spiritual masturbation.

That is one side.

On the other hand, any kind of mitzvah is basically a communion, a binding of oneself with God.

Sometimes I enjoy this act of being bound.

Sometimes I don’t enjoy it.

My enjoyment or lack of enjoyment doesn’t change the fact very much.

Sometimes I have a feeling for it and sometimes I have to learn about it.

Sometimes I don’t get it right.

But again, it doesn’t matter so very much.

My enjoyment is a kind of enticing force of doing things, but this is just a small part of the real deed, which is the creation of some kind of connection between man and God, and this is the meaning of a mitzvah.”


–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz


From a lecture by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in New York City.