Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Mishpatim Are Logical... Why?

Mitzvos can be categorized as mishpatim and chukim.  Mishpatim are the ones you would know even if the Torah had not stated them, chukim the ones that are simply decrees from the King with no humanly understandable logic.  I never thought into that much, seems pretty clear.  Then I started thinking (always a good idea) and I realized that I don't understand that statement at all.  There wasn't an empty reality sitting around and then HaShem one day said, "Hey, I know what would be fun!  I am going to make some people and stuff, give them rules, then punish and reward them depending on how they follow they rules.  Of course, I'll have to work around the logical rules that already exit."  (I would like to say that nothing could be further from the Truth; after all, I do have a pretty good imagination and I can't imagine anything more false.  Alas, the apikosim have had way too much practice and experience for me to limit their possibilities.  None the less, it's in that category.)

The problem is that there was nothing that HaShem "had to deal with"; ein od milvado!  There wasn't even nothing, actually.  HaShem had to create a place of nothing (tzimtzum, for your kabbala aficionados)  into which to create the something of tohu va'vohu and then say "Let there be light!"; the rest, as they say, is history.  That means that the only reason that mishpatim are logical is because HaShem made them logical.  In other words, mishpatim are simply decrees from the King with no humanly understandable logic... sound familiar?  So what, in fact, is the difference between chukim and mishpatim?

I heard R' Avigdor Miller, ztz"l, discussing the oft repeated phrase in the gemara: lama li kra, s'vara hi -- why do I need a verse, it can be deduced by a logical inference.  R' Miller said, in amazement, "What do you mean?  I would have expected to ask why do I care about logic, it's a verse!  You see from here that human logical inference is d'oraisa!"  That is, the ability to reason and the rules of logic that are built into a person are meant to be used to tell us d'oraisa obligations, just as much as what is expressed in the Torah (both Written and Oral) itself.

Awesome.  So ultimately, everything is g'zeiros haMelech - decrees of the King.  What, then is the difference between mishpatim and chukim?  Mishpatim were revealed to us by design at b'ri'as ha'olam -- creation of the world.  Chukim were revealed to us by prophecy at ma'amad har sinai - revelation at Mt Sinai.  As long as we this far out on that limb, I'll just go one step further and note (as explained by the Ramchal in Sefer haIkarim) that the only difference between d'oraisa and d'rabanan is that d'oraiso was revealed (at b'ri'as ha'olam and) ma'amd har sinai, whereas d'rabanan is a revalation through the process of logical reasoning (as designed into a person from b'ri'as ha'olam) applied to Torah (revealed at Har Sinai) as conducted by our Sages.

Ultimately all from one source (the One), all one beautiful system purpose built to allow us to know our Creator.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…