Written by: Rabbi Mordechai Raizman
Reflections on Meron
Parsha Bechukosai begins with Hashem’s words, “If you will walk in my chukim and keep my mitzvos and fulfill them…” Chukim generally refers to laws for which there is not an explanation. Therefore, we don’t usually understand the depth of their significance. Mitzvos, on the other hand, describe those commandments for which we do have a level of understanding, e.g. charity, justice, etc. The question is often raised about the order of the choice of words that is being described in the posuk. Wouldn’t it be more fitting to say first if you walk in my mitzvos since one has the ability to understand what is expected? Then wouldn’t it follow that the natural progression would be that one would be able to even keep the chukim as well? Why does Hashem begin with the commandments that we cannot understand?
I believe this goes back to the beginning of our relationship with Hashem at Har Sinai. We uttered the famous words Naaseh Vnishma, we will do and then we will understand. Our faith in Hashem led us first to accept whatever He sends our way. Our ancestors had total faith that whatever it would be, it was for our good. They clearly saw the Hand of Hashem in their lives redeeming them from Egypt and all the miracles performed for them. They saw His loving embrace, and they knew enough to understand that they did not understand everything. We need to follow this behavior and walk with the chukim and move forward like our ancestors did. We need to continue experiencing and developing the relationship between ourselves and Hashem by observing the chukim. After we make that commitment, we can progress in our relationship with Hashem. At that point, we are ready to grow and move further. If it started the other way around, we would question and question and perhaps never move forward. The following story illustrates this point.
The Klausenberger Rebbe Zatzal was a survivor of the Holocaust who lived through several concentration camps including Auschwitz. He lost his wife and 11 children. On one occasion he was asked the question, “After all that you have been through, do you have any questions for Hashem?”
He replied, “Yes, I have many deep questions. I know if I would ask them, Hashem would invite me up to Heaven to give me the answers Himself. However, I prefer to stay down here on earth with the questions than up there with answers.” He moved forward and continued teaching and building Torah following the war. He walked with the chukim.
The grief and pain that Klal Yisroel is feeling now is immeasurable. We are all reeling from last week’s events. Forty-five souls left this world, many young with so much yet to offer this world. We do not have the capacity to understand this, and yes, we may have questions.
Let us take a moment to step back and see all the miracles and good in our own lives, the tremendous growth of the Jewish people after the Holocaust, the millions of Jews now living in Israel, and the mere fact that we were able to have 100,000 people plus celebrating in Israel together on Lag Ba’omer from all different backgrounds, Chassidic, Sephardic, Litvish, Secular, etc., that came together in unity. Aren’t all those events miraculous? Haven’t we all seen the Hand of Hashem just like our ancestors? Let us take a cue from them and the Klausenberger Rebbe. Let us walk with what we do not understand as well.
Sometimes faith lies in the question not the answer.
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