Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Our generation is a generation of psychology rather than philosophy.”

In every generation and in every age, there are matters that a person simply accepts, without expressing any objections or casting any doubts.

In Maimonides’ generation, for example, what was written in philosophy books was sacrosanct.

In our generation, by contrast, philosophical literature causes no one to tremble, even philosophers themselves.

To be considered a cultured individual, it is sufficient to pepper some of these ideas into one’s conversation, without needing to acknowledge them as the basis of the world’s existence.

Our generation is a generation of psychology rather than philosophy.

Today, the study of the mind is what determines the essence of the human experience in the world.

No one claims today that one should avoid pork because it causes intestinal worms, since all the mitzvot of the Torah can be explained as spiritual dimensions, relating to the human personality.

According to this approach, the sole purpose of all mitzvot is to develop one’s personality, each mitzva in its own way.

In this context it is worth quoting Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who said that the Torah was not given to mend the personality’s torn pants.

There is an element of truth in this.

Whoever thinks that the exalted Torah was given so that man could attain peace of mind, lead a happy family life, love his fellow man, find favor in the eyes of society, or succeed in his affairs diminishes the Torah greatly.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz