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Thought for the Day: Why the Torah Demands So Many Actions With So Many Details -- Bridging the Gap From Creator to Creation

Anyone who has taught physics will have heard this line: "I understand the physics, I just can't do the problems."  Pretty much anyone who has taken a physics class will have said that, as well.  The answer is always the same: If you can't do the problems, you don't understand the material.  Why is that?  In fact, why would someone even think such a statement makes sense in the first place?  No one would think that they could learn to play tennis by just reading about how to do it.  Obviously, one must actually play tennis at some point.  Of course, you will answer, playing tennis is a purely physical activity, whereas physics is a purely mental activity.  That is not quite true, though.  Even after learning how to tennis, one must learn techniques and strategies that must be practiced before they become part of one's game.  So the question is even stronger -- from the purely cerebral to the purely physical, both body and mind must be involved.  Why is that?

Imagine you wanted to map out the currents in a home fish aquarium.  Water is clear, so you would have to introduce some sort of maker in the water that you could see, after which you can measure the movement of your markers and thus infer the water currents.  There are two issues, though, with which one must contend.  First, you can only measure the currents where the markers are; you have to interpolate between markers to guess what is happening between them.  Second, the marker themselves -- not being water, but something else -- affect the very flow you are trying to measure because they block out the water from where they are.  Add more markers improves (1) but exacerbates (2).  So you make the markers smaller/lighter/more refined which improves (2) but now leaves bigger holes.  To get more and more accuracy and depth of understanding, one much continually refine the markers and increase their coverage.

We are in this world to become develop a relationship with our Creator.  To do that, we need to a align our deeds, thoughts, and desires with Him... that is, to become more like Him.  For the creation to understand and align itself with the Creator, we need markers.  HaShem gave us a physical body that reveals spirituality by blocking it; analogously to the markers in the aquarium.  The Torah tells us how to go with the flows instead of blocking them.  As we progress, we delve into more and more details of halacha -- literally, the way/going  -- and align ourselves more and more with our Creator.  Of course there are infinite details in the halacha, because there is infinite opportunity for refining our relationship.

And that's why you need to do the problems and play the game and actually live the halacha.  For us, there is nothing purely physical, nothing purely cerebral, nothing purely spiritual, nothing purely profane.  All is one continuum with infinite opportunity for spiritual growth, which is infinite opportunity for closeness with השם יתברך.


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