Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Mere scaffolding.”

The advantage of a mitzva is not in the fact that through performing it a person can purify his body or soul, or that it is a method of enhancing and maintaining the social order.

Rather, its true value lies in the fact that it is a medium by which God Himself traverses the unfathomable gap of infinity in a process of revelation, not unlike the process of Creation, and says to man: “Such and such is My will; such and such is My thought.  While engaged in these things, you are engaging in something objective: Me.”

Based on this perspective, no matter to what degree a person intellectualizes the mitzvot and imbues them with layers of meaning and feeling, he is ultimately creating mere scaffolding to assist him to relate to them.

There is nothing wrong with employing these methods; people need them, either temporarily or even for a lifetime, because as human beings we find it difficult without them.

But fundamentally, the connection between man and God exists within the action itself, not because the action is good, nice, and useful, but because it is the will of God.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz