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Rabbi Lord Sacks zatzal says in his “Why I Am a Jew; A Chapter from Radical Then, Radical Now”:

“I am a Jew because of our people’s passionate faith in freedom, holding that each of us is a moral agent, and that in this lies our unique dignity as human beings; and because Judaism never left its ideals at the level of lofty aspirations, but instead translated them into deeds that we call mitzvot, and a way, which we call the halakhah, and thus brought heaven down to earth.”

Am I to understand this to mean that through the practice of intricate halakhah, we remain connected to the ideals of Judaism?

Is this clarified elsewhere in Rabbi Lord Sacks' writings?

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  • @AvrohomYitzchok Rabbi Sacks seems to be referring to Tanya et al's teachings about how mitzvot are the Ratzon of Hashem, and by doing mitzvot (through halacha) we are bringing Godly light into the world. However, that's just speculation on my part, I admit I have only read the quote you've brought, not done any further research. Hatzlacha with this great question
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Dec 24, 2023 at 18:20
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    E.g. Chapter 4: G‑d compressed His will and wisdom in the 613 commandments of the Torah and in their laws
    – shmosel
    Dec 24, 2023 at 20:20

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Rabbi Sacks writes that Judaism is a

breathtaking attempt to build, out of simple acts and ordinary lives, a fragment of heaven on earth, a society of human dignity under the sovereignty of God, a home for the Divine presence.

He also says:

The Judaic tradition shaped the moral civilization of the West, teaching for the first time that human life is sacred, that the individual may never be sacrificed for the mass, and that rich and poor, great and small, are all equal before God.

That is to say that Judaism stands for a just society.

We see that our everyday existence is governed by detailed rules. Even the laces of which shoe are tied first is subject to a rule.

It follows that if such apparently trivial matters are covered by rules, a fortiori the rules for a just society must also be rules-based and not subject to change according to those wishing to change societal norms.

This I suggest is the meaning of

Judaism never left its ideals at the level of lofty aspirations, but instead translated them into deeds that we call mitzvot, and a way, which we call the halakhah, and thus brought heaven down to earth.

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