Law of soul and faith

Friday, 12 July, 2019 - 6:43 am

 First, a spoiler: Many of the rabbis outside Eretz Yisrael will devote their sermons tomorrow to the concept of chukah. Parashat Chukat, which will be read tomorrow in the diaspora, opens with the words “Zot chukat haTorah” (This is the decree of the Torah) and goes on to describe the mitzvah of Parah Adumah (Red Heifer).

The speakers will talk about the three types of mitzvos: mishpatim, eduyot and chukim, and then they will most probably go on to speak of the sublimity of the chukim – those mitzvos like tum’a and tahara (ritual purity and impurity), kashrut, and, of course, the Parah Adumah about which Hashem said: “I made a statute, I made a decree.” These mitzvos seemingly have no reason or explanation; we simply do not understand them. We were not told why and for what purpose they should be done. We observe them just because we were commanded to do so by the Creator. And that’s all there is to it.

In the past year, I have had the opportunity to encounter a chok of a slightly different type: a law relating to our souls and our faith. I noticed that at particularly challenging moments, when a person might be in a state of not having the strength to continue, he has to continue anyway – for no reason and without any explanation, as in “This is the decree of the Torah”. This is the way things are.

Sometimes he has to carry with him other people who might be awaiting his smile, and he finds he cannot supply it. People are depending on his strength and he feels he has none. They want to hear his words, and they have disappeared. He is silent. Then he will be able, if he will only wish it, to meet that soul-and-faith law that was instilled in him and says to him: You do have the strength to go on; you do have the ability to smile and to be joyous; you do have those words of encouragement and empowerment for others. You have all this because Hashem instilled these abilities in you, as a hard-core decree.

And I saw something else: I saw that when people believe in this soul-and-faith law, they can lift themselves up and continue forward, their heads held high, with confidence, emunah and joy.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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