Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The One who lives forever.”

The problem of jadedness due to habituation is universal.

When a person encounters death for the first time, it is a shocking experience; the first time one has to deal with a human corpse, one is usually frightened and shaken.

But after being involved in this kind of work for a certain amount of time, jadedness begins to set in:

The scribe begins to step on his holy parchments and the gravedigger begins to drag corpses from place to place.

When a person holds a Torah scroll for the first time, it is a profound experience, but if you are the one who sits and makes the scrolls, and you are constantly surrounded with parchment, it becomes difficult to maintain the same feeling of awe and reverence as at the beginning.

A non-Jewish scholar writes in a work on Tanakh that Psalm 145 is one of the most beautiful verses that he has ever seen.

Now, one who recites this psalm three times a day or more will find it very difficult to appreciate its beauty in this way, at most noticing that it is an acrostic.

What is the source of this limited appreciation?

It is not because he does not know it by heart, but precisely because he knows it by heart.

The Kotzker Rebbe reportedly explained the words of the piyut, “Beauty and eternity pertain to the One who lives forever,” that when a person looks at something beautiful a hundred times, it stops being special in his eyes. Beauty that lasts eternally pertains only to the One who lives forever.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz