After the destruction of the second Temple (the destruction of the quality of bestowal and love of the level of Neshama), people stopped feeling spirituality (the quality of bestowal). Then instead of performing actions of bestowal and love (commandments), all that was left for them were corporeal traditions, the copies of the spiritual actions. From the time of the destruction of the second Temple, people have continued to follow these traditions.
Kabbalists, who were leaders throughout these generations, supported following these traditions and customs in the nation. Gradually, as egoism grew and there was a descent of the generations, people lost the understanding of the connection between the traditions and their desired spiritual execution. They simply carried out mechanical actions, thinking that this was what the Creator demands from a person. They were promised a reward for this in this world and in the other world.
It is written in the Talmud that if there is no connection between the corporeal and spiritual performance, the corporeal actions are lifeless and they kill a person. The corporeal actions that are not connected to spirituality distance a person even more from spirituality and from the Creator because they satisfy the person. It is also written in the Talmud that “the Creator does not care how an animal is killed (meaning, whether or not it is done correctly according to rituals) since the commandments are given in order for a person to be corrected through them.”
If a person seeks a connection between his material actions and their spiritual roots, then when he performs these actions, he reminds himself about spirituality, and in this case it pays for him to perform them. However, if this connection is not there, then carrying out mechanical actions can distance a person from spiritual development, since he becomes satisfied by corporeal actions, “commandments,” and does not feel that anything is lacking in them.
Without the connection to spirituality, the Torah will become a deadly poison for a person. Instead of loving his neighbors, he will feel that he is perfect and will become full of pride in regard to others, thinking that everyone owes him, and this is the poison of spiritual death.