Skip to main content

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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…