Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The Torah is often obscured by inaccurate analogies.”

The singular significance of the Torah is often obscured by inaccurate analogies.

To view the Torah as a book of laws of a set religious system is a distortion of the Jewish worldview and a misunderstanding of the essence of Torah.

Defining the Torah as ‘Law’ puts it in the same category as the ‘Law’ of Gravity and the like, denying the most fundamental feature of the Torah:

It is unique and self-defined.

The term Torah may be used for one thing only: Torah.

Religion is an ideological and practical framework designed to regulate a certain part of life: that which pertains to God’s worship.

Judaism, as expressed in the Torah, cannot and must not be restricted in this way.

The Torah views life as a unified system that embraces the entire lifestyle of Jews and of the Jewish people, down to its smallest details, within a distinctive format.

The Torah, therefore, contains not only laws that govern religious ritual ( commandments between the individual and God) and social life ( commandments between individuals), but also history and poetry, guidance and prophecy, assertions and wonderments.

In this sense, the Torah, like life itself, is not made up of separate compartments, each with its own features.

Human life is always a mixture of everything, of the entire world and all its parts.

Of course, we do create artificial partitions within our own being; we do define categories and set boundaries.

But in reality, every part of the human being is nourished to some degree by all the other parts of the human being.”

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From an essay, “The Living Torah,” by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz