Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “When the body dances, the soul dances as well.”

In this world a person can also feel enjoyment from Torah and mitzvot, but this is not usually the pleasure of the mitzva itself, of incorporation within God’s light.

Rather, it is a this-worldly pleasure.

A person who learns Torah may derive intellectual pleasure from it, just as a person who participates in a meal for the sake of a mitzva may enjoy the taste of the food.

This is in keeping with the parable that hasidim use to explain why they partake of alcohol.

There was once a man who had no legs and who was carried on the back of a deaf man.

Once, they arrived in a place where an orchestra was playing.

The legless man wanted to dance but he had no legs, and the deaf man could not hear the music.

So the legless man gave the deaf man some liquor.

As a result, the deaf man began to leap around and dance, and thus the cripple was able to dance to the music by proxy.

Like the deaf man, the body does not “hear.”

And like the legless man, the soul has no hands with which to perform mitzvot.

So what do we do in order to  worship God with the joy of a mitzva? 

We cause the body to feel joy and pleasure for its own reasons.

And when the body dances, the soul dances as well.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz