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Thought for the Day: HaShem Commanded Every Mitzvah d'Rabanan

One of the 613 commandments given at Mt. Sinai as part of the Torah is: "You shall not deviate from the decrees of the sages in every generation."  This is enumerated as mitzvah 496 in the Sefer HaChinuch, which arranges the mitzvos according to the order that they appear in the Chumash.  This mitzvah is associated with the pasuk 17:11 in D'varim:
עַל-פִּי הַתּוֹרָה אֲשֶׁר יוֹרוּךָ, וְעַל-הַמִּשְׁפָּט אֲשֶׁר-יֹאמְרוּ לְךָ--תַּעֲשֶׂה:  לֹא תָסוּר, מִן-הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר-יַגִּידוּ לְךָ--יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאל
"According to the instructions they [the sages] give you and the decrees they tell you: do not deviate from that matter; not to the right and not to the left."

Given that the Torah obligates us to follow with precision all the decrees of the Chazal, why do we sometimes hear things like "Well, it's only d'rabanan"?  One would never say, "Well, its only lighting a fire on shabbos.", or "Well, its only worshiping multiple deities."

I think this comes from a misconception about why we there are certain kulos (leniencies) associated with rabbinic enactments.  For example, during twilight (bein hashmashos) on Shabbos one does not need to be careful about rabbinic ordinances in the case of pressing need or mitzvah.  The Ramchal in Sefer Ikarim points out that this leniency was, in fact, part of the original decree; not a weakness at all.  In fact, says the Ramchal, both d'oraiso and d'rabanan both express the Will of the Creator.  HaShem chose to reveal some of His Will at Mount Sinai (those are called "d'oraiso") and some via a process of intellectual delving and debate among the Sages that culminates in a vote (those we call "d'rabanan).

Given that both kinds of mitzvah expresses HaShem's Will, and therefore needs to be guarded and fulfilled, why do I even need to know how we got the mitzvah?  The Ramchal says there is only one difference: how does one deal with doubt concerning whether or not the mitzvah was fulfilled?  In the case of d'oraiso, the rule is to be stringent and perform the mitzvah (possibly) again; in the case of d'rabanan, the rule is to be lenient and do not (possibly) repeat the mitzvah.


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