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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.


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