The Difference Between the “Letter of the Law” and the “Spirit of the Law”

There Is No Time In the TorahNews Report (translated from“The Study of Economics in the Spirit of Judaism.”

The Jerusalem Institute of Hi-Technology, “Machon Lev” is opening a unique course, which will certify students with a Masters of Economics degree. This course includes the study of economic aspects of the Jewish Halackha based on the commandments of the Torah.

The Torah contains many commandments and instructions that regulate economic relations, such as, “Do not retain a worker’s day wage,” “Do not collect interest or lend out money on interest,” “Do not use faulty scales for measuring weight and volume,” “Do not pressure your impoverished neighbor by requiring him to pay back his debt,” and many others.

My Comment: If they were to take the real foundation of the entire Torah, its general law, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” and make it the basis of all relationships, then all the other rules would fall right within its margins. But instead, they are just studying how to do business correctly, egoistically.

This is similar to the way people learn to “speak properly” with one another in order to avoid using “Lashon Ra” (bad language), instead of attuning their hearts to love for one’s neighbor. If they did the latter, then naturally everything they said would also be good! However, instead of correcting their hearts, they will learn to do business and communicate strictly “according to the law.” There won’t be anything to pick on, but they will still be opposite to the Torah!

This is the difference between religion and Kabbalah: Religion does not aim to correct man, since it doesn’t have the instrument of correction, the force of the Light. On the other hand, Kabbalah’s objective is precisely this: to correct man and raise him to the level of similarity to the Creator, since only Kabbalah contains this force (see item 155 of Baal HaSulam’s “Introduction to Talmud Eser Sefirot“). This is the difference between their objectives. One’s purpose in religion is to look proper in the eyes of the society, whereas one’s purpose in Kabbalah is to attain approval in the Creator’s eyes.

Appendix: Baal HaSulam. Article, “The Essence of Religion and Its Purpose

Many are mistaken and compare our holy Torah with Ethics. This is because they have never attained the meaning of true religion through revealing the Creator. I call upon them: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” But still ethics (Musar) is as distant from the true religion (Kabbalah) as the distance between the thought of the Creator from the thought of man. For true religion extends from the thought of the Creator, while ethics (the system of Musar) is produced by thoughts of flesh and blood and from man’s life experience. Therefore, the difference between them is obvious, both in practical aspects and in the final aim.

For the recognition of good and evil that develops in us through ethics as we use it, is relative to the success of the society. With religion (Kabbalah), however, the recognition of good and evil that develops in us as we use it is relative to the Creator alone. That is to say, from a change of form with the Creator, to equivalence of form with Him through the quality of bestowal and love, which is called adhesion.

For the purpose of Musar (ethics) is the well-being of society as it is understood by practical reason, which is taken from the events of life in this world. However, Kabbalah allows one to attain love for others, and thereby to reach similarity and adhesion with the Creator. And along with it man passes from his narrow world, full of pain and impediments, to a spacious and eternal world of the Creator.

Thus it is obvious that true religion (Kabbalah) is only for man’s correction. And the goal is attained during one’s life, while living in this world. However, if one has not attained equivalence with the Creator, one dies just as he was born, having achieved nothing in his life.

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