Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “There is a type of personality for whom perfection is innate.”

Joseph was a true tzaddik.

Sometimes this identity is apparent in a person’s character from birth, and it is immediately clear that this person is innately good.

There is a type of personality for whom perfection is innate.

Jonathan, Saul’s son, seems to fit this characterization – he is a person with no apparent defects.

Let us note, however, that such a person – a man who bears an aspect of perfection by his very nature, who was born with all the great gifts and who exercises them in perfect fashion – must be judged by his ability to remain at this level.

Possessing all the virtues is not enough if he is unable to rectify himself the moment he becomes flawed.

In nature, too, there are structures that do not reach perfection byway of development but, rather, emerge perfect from the outset.

The Talmud (Beitza 3b) mentions the possibility of using an egg to support the leg of a bed.

This talmudic statement is strange and surprising.

After all, even if this were possible, who would use an egg to support the leg of a bed?

But the truth is that from a physical standpoint, an egg is one of the most perfect structures in existence.

The only problem is that an egg’s strength depends on its complete integrity.

It is like a dome: The moment one stone falls, the whole structure collapses.

This is often the nature of this kind of perfection: It can last only as long as there is no flaw.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz