Friday, July 07, 2006

Parshas Chukas - Balak

In this week’s parsha we learn about the Parah Adumah – something who’s reason is beyond human comprehension. The fact that it turns people from pure to impure, and impure to pure, makes little sense to us, and the Torah gives us no reasoning for it. Interestingly, the Sefer haChinuch, who gives the reasons for all of the mitzvos, merely says that he is “afraid to explain the reason for the command.” Interesting stuff.

On a side note, R’ Yaakov Kaminetsky says that when the Sefer haChinuch, or anyone else for that matter, gives reasons for the mitzvos, they aren’t giving THE definitive reason – they may be giving a reason, but not one that is tied in with the commandment to the point where if the reason for doing it no longer applied, we would cease practicing this commandment. Along these lines, there is a Talmudic dispure between Rav Shimon, who says we do consider the reason for the mitzvos, and the Chachaim (sages), who say we do not take them into account. That being said, their argument isn’t whether or not we have to walk around like zombies practicing Yiddishkeit, not attaching any reasons to the commandments. Rather, their dispute is, like mentioned above, whether or not we would stop doing a mitzvah if its reason for doing it no longer applied. We rule like the sages.

But even according to the sages who say we don’t – they don’t say its assur to say that mitzvos have meanings – so what’s the harm in the Torah telling us why we do the Parah Adumah? Just give us a reason, and we can still rule like the sages and we will continue doing the commandment even if the reason no longer applies. However, the Torah leaves us out to dry; it does not give us a reason. But why?

Answers R’ Yaakov – we need to know that at the of the day, we do things because G-d tell us to. Sure, a lot of what we do makes sense (ie circumcision for hygiene reasons, etc.), but we do it because we are told to.

Having the mindset to constantly look for reasons for the mitzvos can be dangerous at times, as you may constantly find yourself saying, “But that doesn’t apply anymore, why do I have to do it?” Enough of this questioning may lead one to not observe a mitzvah because it may not make sense. To me, reasons for mitzvos are good explanations when asked by a non-Jew or a less observant Jew why we may or may not do something. The Parah Adumah, however, teaches us that while things may or may not make sense intuitively, we do them anyway, because Gd wants us to.


Blogger FrumGirl said...

That makes sense, lol.

Seriously though, I know for myself I am always looking for the reason why so I think its nice that Hashem wants to remind us about what the priorities are really all about. The fact that it says in the sefer that he is afraid to explain why is somewhat spooky. Makes you wonder.

9:41 AM, July 10, 2006


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