Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Jewish Law as a Device for Personal Refinement

"Halakhah (Jewish law) aims to sanctify man’s body, refine the bestial aspects of human life with all their lusts and drives, and raise them to the level of divine service. But this refining process does not take place in a crucible of denial and deprivation; [it occurs by] stamping the natural aspects of human existence with direction and purposefulness. Combining the beast in man with his divine image purifies and sanctifies the body. This union is accomplished by imposing the yoke of the halakhic commandments on the body. The purpose of the halakhic imperative is not to label man’s sensual body as impure and thus reject it, but to purify it and draw it closer to God."

R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, From There You Shall Seek, trans. Naomi Goldblum (Jersey City, NJ: MeOtzar HaRav, Ktav, 2008), 111-2

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