Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “A pendulum cannot move to just one extreme.”

Sometimes, it is precisely those who generally operate in a state of calm who will seek out excitement in their lives, and it is those who lead tumultuous lifestyles who will seek out calm and tranquility.

In any case, even those who seek out excitement often find it difficult to maintain such a lifestyle over a long period of time.

One cannot expect to achieve great things without experiencing periods of stagnation and complacency.

This reality is rooted in human nature itself.

After all, we are not built as one harmonious unit, with body, soul, and various aspects of our personalities in complete harmony.

If one tries to pull things in one direction, the law governing both the physical and the spiritual dictates that there will be an equal reaction in the opposite direction.

Rabbi Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk, in his work Peri HaAretz, describes this problem using the example of a pendulum.

A pendulum cannot move to just one extreme.

If it swings far to the left, it must also swing back to the right in equal measure.

So it is in the service of God:

It is impossible to constantly ascend.

Everyone inevitably experiences descents and falls in his spiritual life, each person in his own way.

Although there is a difference between the fall of the righteous and the fall of the wicked – the distance of the fall, where one lands after the fall, and in what condition one finds himself – nevertheless, a fall is a fall, and the resulting trauma is the same trauma.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From Talks on the Parasha