The wise son knows that the 613 mitzvos are divided into three different categories. Some mitzvos fall into the category of “eidus.” They stand as testimony to many of our beliefs. For example, Shabbos testifies to the fact that Hashem created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day. Then we have another category of mitzvos that are called “mishpotim.” These are laws that are logical and make sense. They include laws such as not killing or not stealing. Then, we have a third category of mitzvos calledchukim that seem to defy all reason and logic. They include mitzvos such as Parah Adumah, shat’nez, basar b’cholov, etc. These are the mitzvos that the Yeitzer ho’rah and the soton, mock, scoff and ridicule.
While the wisest of all men, Shlomo Ha’Melech, was able to make sense out of most of them, he too was stumped by the laws of Parah Adumah which purified the impure, yet had the reverse effect upon the pure. Moshe Rabbeinu, as mentioned inTanchumah, however, understood this paradox. Perhaps it’s very much like taking a medication. It can cure the sick and at the same time sicken the healthy.
When we go to a doctor who gives us a medication, many times the doctor himself does not know why the medicine works; yet we take it anyway. We have confidence that the doctor knows best. While we have no idea as to how the ashes of a red cow are able to contaminate the pure yet at the same time purify the impure, we know that G-d Who created the world, surely knows how it all works and we must do as He tells us even if we don’t know the reason.
When we tell a little child not to stick any metal into an outlet, we do not give him a reason. That’s because he doesn’t know, nor can he understand what electricity is all about. When scientists warn a person to stay away from radiation because it is very dangerous, the person must listen to the warning even if he doesn’t see what’s wrong with doing it. We know that the scientist knows what’s best. Certainly, Hashem, Who created milk and meat, wool and linen, knows why they don’t go together. Perhaps someday we will discover the reason. Yet we have the full trust and confidence that Our Creator knows what’s best for us.
Modern science has taught us that there are lots of things that didn’t make sense and were scoffed at in olden times, yet today we see the seemingly impossible became quite possible. Who would have believed that a craft weighing a ton or more could ever lift off the ground and fly? Who would ever have believed that one could talk and see people thousands of miles away by talking into a small piece of plastic? Who but an electronics engineer can understand the inside workings of a computer, or the many other electronic gadgets we use on a daily basis? Even the most learned scientists don’t fully understand the workings of atoms, molecules, and the inner workings of the cells we are made of. The more we learn, the more we stand in awe of the great complexity and depth of the Universe around us.
Perhaps we can better understand this with the following story.
Sam Lewis threw his backpack over his shoulder and took his shotgun in hand, as he set out to the dense forests of Zanzibar for his “vacation” safari. He enjoyed these hunting expeditions immensely, so he made them an annual experience. He enjoyed nature, the adventure and the love for the unknown.
After walking for more than two hours through the dense forest, he put his backpack next to a thick tree- stump and sat down in the tall green grass for a short rest. He put his hand into his backpack and pulled out his small portable pocket‑size TV, slipped in the battery pack, pulled out the antennae, and he was instantly connected to the news happening thousands of miles away. A small space satellite hundreds of miles above beamed the latest happenings with brilliant clarity. What an amazing century to live in! How far man has come, he thought to himself. What an ingenious invention. It was absolutely mind‑boggling! One could see what was happening thousands of miles away as if it was right in front of you.
When the news was over he slipped the battery back into his pocket and put his portable TV back into his backpack. Not wanting to carry his backpack any further he left it next to the tree stump and set off with his shotgun to do some hunting.
A short while after he had left, a small group of African tribesmen happened to pass through the forest and spotted the large backpack lying on the ground. After sorting through its contents they came across a strange rectangular black and silver box that looked quite suspicious. They had never seen the likes of it before. It had a sort of window on it, yet you couldn‘t see through it. They began turning its dials, pushing its buttons, pulling out its long metal rod ‑yet absolutely nothing happened. No matter what they did they got nothing. They were so overcome with curiosity that they decided to take the strange little box back to their village and show it to the chief elder. Perhaps he could figure out what this queer box was all about.
The chief elder beheld the strange box with great curiosity. From its sophisticated look, it most certainly must serve some very important purpose, he thought to himself. Yet, as much as he tried to twist and turn the dials, the results were all negative. Absolutely nothing whatsoever happened. After many hours of fruitless efforts he decided to give up and call the wise man. Perhaps with his great wisdom, he could discover what the purpose of this strange box was all about.
After many hours of twisting and turning the dials, the wise man finally decided that the only way to unravel the mystery was to open it up and look inside. Perhaps the contents would give him some clue as to its purpose. After much work he finally was able to get inside, and he began to study it very carefully. The more he studied it, the more it confused him. The mystery kept getting deeper and deeper. It was one big jumble of twisted wires going in all directions. And there were all sorts of oddly shaped pieces that made absolutely no sense whatsoever. It looked like one big maze of nonsense connected to each other in a tangle of knots that had no possible explanation. He searched and pondered. He touched and he moved. Yet the whole thing made absolutely no sense to him. After many weeks of painstaking examination, the wise man was convinced that the entire box was nothing but the work of a madman and fool and served absolutely no worthwhile purpose. It was nothing but a twisted piece of junk that could do absolutely nothing, the wise man insisted. It was nothing but the work of an idiot, was his brilliant conclusion. All the tribesmen nodded in affirmation at the wise man’s logical conclusion. And so, it was decided to return the box to where they had found it.
When they returned the box, they chanced to meet the white man walking through the forest. He had truly missed his most valuable TV and had been wondering where it had disappeared. He was delighted to have it returned and wondered why they had taken it since it certainly wouldn‘t work without the battery.
“Perhaps you can tell us,” said the tribesmen, “why do you carry this worthless box with you.”
“Worthless box?” Sam turned to them incredulously. “Why, this box is the most amazing box in the world! With it you can see what’s happening thousands of miles away. It is the most brilliant invention that exists. How dare you call it worthless?”
“Sure, sure.” They laughed and scoffed at his nonsensical words, the words of a fool.
“So, you don’t believe it?” said Sam, realizing that they had never seen a television in their lives before. “Come here, let me show you what it can do.”
He slipped the battery out of his pocket and inserted it into the back of his TV. Suddenly the screen lit up and a picture, accompanied by sound, appeared. The tribesmen crowded around to look at the little black box. It was absolutely incredible! They just couldn‘t believe their eyes. Here they could see and hear what was happening thousands of miles away. It was astounding. They stood as if in a hypnotic trance, watching every move. They had never heard or seen such an amazing box in their lives. To them it was nothing less than magic. They stood with their eyes wide open, astounded, unable to take their eyes off the screen.
So this was the box they had all thought was the work of an idiot, they thought to themselves. How much further from the truth could they have been?
When they finally got over the initial shock, one of them turned to Sam and said, “Perhaps you could do us a big favor and accompany us back to our village so that everyone there will be able to see this marvelous box? Certainly, if we come back and tell them what we’ve seen nobody will believe us. They‘ll say it was a dream, or suspect us of being a bunch of liars. Only if you come along with us and show it to them will they believe that the story is true.”
Sam agreed to their proposal, and they set off together toward the village. That night all the villagers gathered together to see with their very own eyes what this box was all about. They sat there as if in a trance watching what was happening thousands of miles away. There wasn’t a sound in the audience. When the demonstration was over, they all looked at their wise man with a great feeling of derision. Here he had convinced them all that the box was nothing but a nonsensical toy, the work of a madman or an idiot. Yet they were now convinced that whoever had put this thing together was a genius of the greatest caliber. Certainly every single piece and every wire must have a good purpose. It would take a genius to understand what it was all for. It was certainly beyond their scope of comprehension to understand how it all worked. It was absolutely fantastic!
Yes, for thousands of years, man has been no different than this African tribe. He saw, but had no idea what he saw. He searched. He experimented. He examined. Yet, because of his very limited understanding, he couldn‘t make heads or tails out of what he saw. It simply made no sense. He thought it was just mumbo‑jumbo. He thought that it was all a mish-mash of nonsense, without any visible pattern. People viewed the universe as some chance mutation caused by some big explosion referred to as the “big bang.” They saw no logic and reason. Everything they looked at seemed to be in disarray. They thought that it came into being by chance mutation, random selection or just a big explosion. They scoffed and laughed at anyone that dared say there was rhyme and reason to it all.
Then suddenly a scientific revolution occurred. A very tiny window to Hashem’s creation began to open. Brilliant discoveries emerged. The universe of confusion started taking on laws and meaning. Things began making sense. In what they had thought was mass confusion they began to see great reason and logic. Biologists began seeing the greatest order and precision in even the tiniest of cells. A single cell was far more complex than the most sophisticated chemical plant in the world. The things they began to see happening inside each cell blew their mind. It was mind‑boggling. Physicists began finding the greatest powers and precision in the core of the atom, and began to build atomic reactors that could supply the world’s energy for thousands of years to come. Chemists began using their knowledge to build complex new structures and making new materials that had never existed previously. Doctors began finding that the body is made up of fascinating and brilliant organs working together like a billion ‑piece orchestra with unbelievable precision and coordination. Biologists soon began to unravel some of the deep secrets found inside living cells and learn of the great wonders it contained. They began to learn the great marvels contained in the chromosomes. They began to see the great precision in the DNA. They began to see the marvelous structure in each living cell. They even began to unravel the code of life.
Man soon learned that an ordinary magnet, which seemed no more than a play-toy for children, contained the power to make electricity. He learned how to use it to make motors and dynamos and to light up cities. He learned to talk through metal wires and to broadcast through thin air and to send pictures through space.
Man’s knowledge of Hashem’s 92 elements of creation continues to expand – building electronic gadgets never imagined possible – building super computers that can do in only one nano-second the work that it would take a billion people a thousand years to do. It’s all just frightening!
Yes, we are slowly beginning to realize that the world is made with great precision and is indeed very complex. It is only our limited understanding of the universe that must be faulted. Slowly scientists are beginning to understand that not one single speck in the universe was created for naught. Each has its reason; each has its purpose. We are only beginning to scratch the surface. We have seen no more than the tip of the iceberg. We’re just a few stages ahead of the African tribesmen. Yet we know that the day will soon come when the wellsprings of wisdom will open up, and all the brilliant discoveries we’ve seen until now will make us look like we, too, lived in the Dark Ages. The time will come that every creature will realize that all the invisible forces of nature are the work of Hashem Himself. It is He Who makes the atoms spin. It is He Who holds them together. It is He who controls all the forces of nature. It is He who creates all matter and energy. We will all stand there in awe, as the Melech Hamoshiach will expound the Torah and show us how all the secrets of the universe can be found within the Torah. We’ll stand in disbelief at our own foolishness and stupidity. We’ll stand there like those African tribesmen did when they saw the unbelievable wisdom contained in that small black box. We’ll suddenly realize the great wisdom that fills the universe. There will be a sudden awakening of knowledge that will fill us with awe for Hashem and all He created, as the Rambam concludes with the posuk:
“And the world will be full with the knowledge of G ‑d like the waters that cover the ocean.” All mankind will clearly see that ‑ ‘Hashem is One and His Name is One.’
Every computer comes with an instruction book which teaches us how to operate it and warns us not to do certain things that will make it crash or malfunction. Obviously the instruction booklet does not always give us a reason why certain things should not be done. After all, few people would understand it.
Hashem Who created heaven and earth, gave us an instruction booklet called the Torah that tells us what may and may not be done. Not everything can be understood by man’s feeble mind and therefore not always is the explanation given. In fact there are certain questions that the Torah forbids us to even ask, such as what was before the earth was created? Or what is beyond the universe? That’s because our brain simply is unable to understand such complex matters.
Would one dare take out even a single piece from the insides of a computer in the belief that it served no purpose and that it was just put there for potluck? Only a fool would ever think so!
We are sure the day will come when science will finally discover the ultimate truth. It is then that all of mankind will come to the realization that the Torah laws, especially the chukim, represent the eternal truth. And so by observing these chukim, we are in essence reconfirming our belief that Hashem is the Creator and Master of the universe and that we have full confidence that His Torah contains His Eternal Truth!
All of mankind will ultimately see with perfect clarity, that all of creation ‑all the forces of nature ‑are nothing but a manifestation of Hashem Himself. He makes it. He moves it. And He reenergizes it every moment of the day. All scientists, biologists, chemists, physicists will come to the realization that without G‑d the universe could not possibly exist. All their experiments and findings will reach the same conclusion.
All scientists and humanity will proclaim: ‑”Hashem is the only G‑d in the Heaven above and on the earth below-there is no other.”