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Thought for the Day: Rabbinic Decrees Remain in Force Unless Specifically Repealed

In the 70s when gas prices were on the increase, highway speed limit was lowered from 65mph to 55mph.  The main reason for the decrease was to save fuel.  That was certainly one reason, but there were others; including increased safety and decreased road maintenance costs.  In fact, there was a famous case (that means I heard about it) where Porsche owner tried to get out of paying a speeding ticket by bringing in documentation that his car got better fuel economy at 70mph than at 55mph.  Naturally, the case was thrown out and he had to pay the fine.

When Chazal made decrees, they revealed to us some of their reasoning.  As explained by the Ramchal in Sefer haIkarim, the rabbinic process is one of the ways in which HaShem reveals to us His will.  Therefore, even if we knew all of their reasons, it would be no excuse for us to decide to drop this or that g'zeira or takana.  It is the gezeira or takana that expresses HaShem's Will, which is immutable.  Just as we don't know the "real" reasons for mitzvos d'o'raisah, we also don't know the "real" reasons for mitzvos d'rabanan.  We know (some of) the reasons in order to learn what are important considerations; not to decide whether or not we find the mitzvah relevant.  That is just as true for mitzvos d'rabanan as it is for mitzvos d'o'raisah.


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