There is no free man, save he who occupies himself with the study of Torah

Ethics of the Fathers 6:2

Among the great technological achievements of the last half-century is the development of the laser beam. The nature of light is such that it scatters as it moves away from its source, thereby lessening its intensity and effect. The laser overcomes this limitation by concentrating its energy in a straight line, so that it retains its potency even at a great distance from its point of origin. Thus its utility (as a source of light, heat, or other uses) can be exploited in ways previously unimaginable.

We often hear the argument that a life that is faithful to the precepts of the Torah is greatly “constricted” and “confined.” Why limit myself in any way? Why not give free reign to my thoughts, feelings and inclinations, and let them lead me where they may? Why categorically exclude certain pursuits and experiences from the possible paths my life might take?

On the face of it, any code of behavior is limiting—something that detracts from the great variety of possibilities that life has to offer. In truth, however, the very opposite is the case. A life without parameters is a life that quickly dissipates in the cosmic heterogeneity in which we exist, draining it of all power and impact. As the example of the laser beam demonstrates, it is precisely the “limitations” imposed on a force that extend and amplify its potential and enable its optimal realization.

Based on an address delivered by the Rebbe on Chanukah, 5730 (1970)

Adapted from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe by Yanki Tauber


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