On the eve of entering the Land of Israel, Moses reminds the Israelites to keep God’s commandments in the land that they are about to enter. Moses sternly warns them of the dangers of idol worship, which was rife in Canaan. The Israelites are instructed to destroy the sites of such foreign worship, whether they are on lofty mountains, or on hills, or under a luxuriant tree. Moreover, altars and pillars were to be smashed, sacred trees burned and graven images cut down (Deuteronomy 12:1-3). In the following verse Moses quickly adds: “Do not do thus to the Lord your God.”The hassidic master Rabbi Zvi Elimelekh Shapira of Dynow (1783-1841), citing his saintly contemporaries, read this addendum as a relevant directive aimed as spiritual growth, unconnected to ancient Canaanite idols of bygone days.In his work titled Agra Dekala – first published in Lemberg in 1868 – he explained that there are people who solidly maintain a religious regimen. They study a certain amount of Torah each day and they recite a certain number of chapters of Psalms each day. Once they have completed their daily dues, these people feel a sense of achievement; in his words “They have already given the Creator what is due to Him,” and they can spend the rest of the day idling about.In response to such a lifestyle, he pointed out that no two days are the same. A particular action on one day may be considered righteous, while on the following day it is loathsome. A good deed done privately may be laudable, but the same deed performed the next day with a boastful intent is unworthy.According to the hassidic master, this notion is expressed in the biblical verse “Do not do thus,” meaning do not do the same actions every day with the assumption that it will be “to the Lord your God.” Each day has its own trials. A person’s spiritual course needs to respond to the challenges with today’s plan of action, not with yesterday’s recipe.Shapira’s illustration of his point – private laudable deeds as opposed to public boastful conduct – seems not to capture the full extent of his teaching. Indeed, the hassidic master from Dynow returned to the same theme, once again suggesting a model of flexibility in religious practice. In the context of the verse “And you should not erect a stone monument, which the Lord your God detests” (Deut. 16:22), he wondered why the Almighty’s distaste is specifically mentioned in this verse. Doesn’t God hate all iniquity? It must be, he opined, that the verse is not just talking about one specific commandment; rather, the Bible is offering sage counsel about spiritual pursuits in general. Here he returned to the person who followed a strict spiritual regimen. Such a person has turned spiritual endeavors into “a stone monument” – solid and unchanging. Contrary to what we might think, the Almighty detests this course. Just as life is dynamic, so too, spirituality should be dynamic, developing, evolving, changing from time to time and from situation to situation. A person, therefore, must be flexible rather than rock-hard, frozen and fossilized in religious practice. His words are surprising in the sense that they seem to advocate an antinomian element of breaking down the existing religious order and holy disrupting communal endeavors, in favor of an individual’s personal search for meaning. It is possible that the hassidic master was well aware of the dangerous potency of his words, and the destabilizing sting they carried. This might explain why he concluded each of the two passages with cryptic lines: “And it is impossible to elucidate the matter, though the knowledgeable person will understand on his own”; “And understand [this] because it is impossible to elucidate everything in writing. And the knowledgeable will understand.” This signals to the reader that the printed words do not fully capture the idea in all its complexity; hence they should be pondered before implementation.The truth is that anyone familiar with Shapira would find it hard to imagine this hassidic leader advocating discarding rock-solid religious frameworks. He was a bona fide rabbinic figure, who spent four years as rabbi of Munkatch, Hungary before returning to Galicia where he served as rabbi of Dynow. In these official rabbinic capacities, Shapira would have been responsible for upholding Jewish law. Moreover, in his other writings – hassidic and legal – he staunchly opposed any changes associated with encroaching modernity, demanding fidelity to time-honored tradition and practice in every possible way. How then should we understand this call for inconstancy from such a conservative hassidic master? Perhaps his comments should be read as one strand in rich spiritual tapestry. While he most certainly advocated maintaining old-school tradition, in these passages he may have been advocating balance in the quest for a life imbued with spirituality; tempering consistency with change and spicing up constancy with innovation. The writer, a rabbi in Tzur Hadassah, is on the Pardes faculty and a post-doctoral fellow at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.