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The Crown of Halacha

Chukos 5777 – A Fool is Wise in His Own Eyes

This entry is part 6 of 9 in the series Bamidbar 5777

Chukos 5777 – A Fool is Wise in His Own Eyes

Answer a fool according to his folly lest he be wise in his sight. Mishlei 26:5.


This week’s parsha, Chukas, begins with “Hashem spoke to Moshe and Aaron saying

(לאמור)  This is the decree of the Torah which Hashem has commanded saying…(לאמור)


The Kli Yakar asks, Why is the word לאמור written again? We were just told that Hashem is giving this commandment.

Ignore Ignorance

He answers that the Torah is teaching us what to say to the non-Jews when they ask about the mitzvah of Para Duma. If the non-Jew asks, “Why are you doing this mitzvah? It doesn’t make sense that the one who purifies should become impure through his act of purification!” We should answer him, “Because Hashem said so.” Any other answer will lead to an argument that cannot be won on our part since the reasoning behind the laws of Para Duma are not revealed to us. By trying to answer him we allow him to grow wiser and wiser in his own eyes. So we answer, “Because.” We allow him to have a question that cannot be answered, and by thinking he is wiser than the Torah he becomes a fool.

Revere Wisdom

Yet, we see that in Parshas Va’eschanan (4:6), “…it is your wisdom and discernment in the eyes of the Nations…” We see from here that the non-Jews greatly respect the Torah. How can we make sense of the contradiction: In Parshas Chukos the non-Jews laugh at the Torah but in Parshas Va’eschanan the non-Jews respect the Torah?

Listen, My Son, to the Guidance of Your Father

It can be answered with a mashol:

As little Shimon was growing up he would often ask his father’s advice. His father would sit down and carefully explain to Shimon what to do and the reasoning behind it. Over the years, Shimon grew very successful by carefully following his father’s sagely advice. One day Shimon approached his father for advice on a very difficult problem. His father told him exactly what to do.

But when Shimon asked for an explanation his father only answered, “Because!” Shimon explained that his life and the lives of his family are dependent on this advice and that it would be helpful to know the reasoning behind it. However, his father didn’t budge. “Because” was his answer.

Shimon was confused at first but he reasoned, “Until now my father guided me and his advice has always saved me. Why should I think that this time it will be any different?” Of course, Shimon did exactly as his father advised him even though he did not understand the reasoning behind it. And of course, by doing so he succeeded in saving his family.

What Do You Base Your Belief On?

The nimshol is:

The non-Jew’s look at the Torah and marvel at its wisdom. However, they do so only when it makes sense; for example, honoring one’s parents or the laws against stealing. However, when things do not make sense then they scoff at the handiwork of Hashem.

Hashem is Beyond Understanding

A Jew, on the other hand, will not waver when Hashem tests him. A Jew will say, “Hashem has been with me until now, guiding me with love and care through all kinds of difficult situations. The fact that I do not understand why I am being tested in such a way does not shake my belief in Hashem. I know Hashem is with me now. He knows what is best for me whether I understand what is happening or not.”

As for me, I don’t want to believe in a God that I understand.



Series Navigation<< Korach 5777 – The Power of Free ChoiceBalak 5777 – The Power of No-ing >>
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