banner2.gif
  Torah from Dixe leftbar.gif [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] [] []    [top_xxx.jpg]

REASONABLE REASONS

by Jonathan Fisher    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

This week's Torah portion stakes its claim as being the portion containing more mitzvot than any other, with laws covering all parts of the spectrum. Is there an underlying theme which connects them all? We know that the Torah is not a random group of laws, so if these mitzvot are all included in the same section then there must be a connection.

complete_story.gif    

[]

This week's Torah portion stakes its claim as being the portion containing more mitzvot than any other, with laws covering all parts of the spectrum. Is there an underlying theme which connects them all? We know that the Torah is not a random group of laws, so if these mitzvot are all included in the same section then there must be a connection.

We cannot be fully confident of our insights when we attempt to build connections involving chukim (statutes), a category of mitzvot which we are commanded to fulfill even though they have no apparent logical explanation or purpose. One classic example of a chok (statute, singular for chukim) which often comes to mind is the law of shatnez, the prohibition against wearing any garment containing a mixture of wool and linen, as mentioned in this week's Torah portion. What is the logic behind this law - why would Hashem prohibit wearing two natural fibers together when there is nothing wrong with wearing those same fibers separately?! This commandment doesn't seem to be due to a concern of morality, monetary matters, kindness, or any other basis for a mitzvah. Perhaps the reason is due to mystical forces which are beyond our comprehension. The fact is that we do not know the logic behind these commandments, and even if we are able to make a connection, it may only be the tip of the iceberg.

Even if we think we understand the reason for a mitzvah, as long as the Torah has not given us a reason, the commandment remains a chok. For example, a mitzvah in this week's portion which gets a lot of attention is the law of sending away a mother bird before taking her young. No explanation is given in the verse, but one can easily find some logic to this mitzvah. The mother may be heartbroken if she sees her young taken right from under her, but if she is first chased away she will not have to bear this traumatic experience. That seems logical, and since it is so easy to do, one could fully appreciate this mitzvah, and could certainly apply this lesson to other instances. However, if we introduce this logic as fact, then there is a serious danger in this explanation. Could you imagine what might happen if everyone understood this explanation as the reason why we chase away the mother bird? Perhaps, after years of bird research, it will be found beyond a shadow of a doubt that birds couldn't care less if their young were taken away while they remained in the nest to watch. People would say that the original logic doesn't hold water and that perhaps the law should no longer apply, when in actuality no logical explanation was ever given by the Torah.

When reading about a chok or even about anything else, take into account that what the author is relating may not be the interpretation, but rather a possible explanation among many. They can teach fundamental moral lessons and inspire us to grow to new heights. However, we must remember to keep everything in perspective and know that Hashem may have other reasons why we should observe a particular mitzvah.

[]

Jonathan Fisher, a graduate of Yeshiva Atlanta, is studying at the Yeshiva BMT in Jerusalem.

Read more Ki Teitzei articles.

Would you recommend this article to a friend? Let us know by sending an e-mail to editor@tfdixie.com

butombar.gif [] [] [] []