Because I Said So (Chukat)

The chok (from which our parsha gets its name) is generally translated as a divine command that we do not understand. Examples include the kosher diet, the purification process of the red heifer and many more. Why do we do it? Because G-d said so.

What exactly is the value in doing something “because G-d said so”?

We humans like to think of ourselves as “rational” beings with sound logic as the primary motivator of our behavior. Unfortunately, this has been demonstrated to be false. We are not primarily motivated by rational thought but rather core beliefs about ourselves and reality.

The chok fosters an underlying belief system that as Jews we do things (including commandments that we DO understand) “because G-d said so”. This motivation creates a solid foundation and keeps us connected to G-d when situations that may challenge our rational motivations arise.

As parents, when we give our children orders without justifying them, we foster our child’s ability to defer to a loving, caring being that is aware of things they are not and therefore worthy of their trust and deference.

There are times for explanations and discussions but without the solid foundation of belief in something greater then themselves their relationship with us (and G-d) is severely limited.

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