Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “No matter by whom.”

The meaning and importance of serving God is the profound connection to the divine that it implies: not a connection based on a legal contract and its clauses but a connection that is personal and intimate.

The early Hasidim expressed this idea in a parable about a king who sent his general out to conduct a military campaign.

When the general suffered a defeat, the king suspected that his general might be disloyal.

To determine the truth, he send a second general to take his place.

When this general was successful, the king monitored the reaction of the first general.

If he were happy, that would indicate that his defeat had been an honest one.

But if he were upset, that would indicate that he was, in fact disloyal.

The same applies to the battle against the evil inclination.

If a person sinned, was it because he could not withstand temptation or because his fundamental personal connection to God was impaired?

To learn the answer, we need only look at how he relates to others who are successful in their personal struggle.

Is he glad for them or upset?

Does he hate them because they succeeded where he failed, or is he glad that someone—even if not himself—succeeded?

If this battle on behalf of God is truly his battle, then he is glad that it is being waged successfully, no matter how and no matter by whom.

—Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz