This parashah begins with the continuing sanctification of Aaron as Cohen HaGadol, the High Priest, and his sons, Nadab and Abihu, as the cohanim to assist him. But the sons offered unauthorized fire before the Sanctuary, and as such their punishment was to be killed by fire coming from the Sanctuary. Moses tells Aaron not to grieve for his sons as he is still being sanctified, but that the people will grieve for him.
The last chapter of this parashah is the chapter outlining the Laws of Kashrut, the Kosher Laws.
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At the risk of repeating myself, I am going to talk about a theme I bring up often, but probably can’t bring up too often. And that theme is this:
Obedience doesn’t require understanding, and in fact, wanting to understand is a form of faithlessness.
There is no end to the number of reasons people come up with why God has determined some animals are clean to eat and others aren’t. From the risk of catching a disease, such as trichinosis from pork, to the fact that some animals are scavengers which eat carrion.
Let’s digress for a moment to review the three types of laws: Mitzvot, Mishpatim, and Chukim.
A mitzvah is a commandment of religious duty; mishpatim are rules that govern inter-personal relationships, and Chukim are those laws for which we have no logical explanation.
For example, it is a mitzvah that we must celebrate the Shabbat, and it is a mishpatim that we love our neighbor as ourselves. However, the requirement for the showbread in the Sanctuary, and it being replaced once a week, well…who knows why God wants us to do that? That is a Chukim law.
Back to the parashah: for me, the Kosher Laws fall under Chukim. Yes, of course, they are all commandments, but why do some animals get specified as unclean and others not? No carnivores are clean, only herbivores, and of all the herbivores, only those that are ruminants with a split hoof are clean. Why just them?
And fish must have scales and fins, otherwise, they are unclean. What is the deal with that?
I don’t know why God wants things this way, but I do know that it doesn’t matter why- he is God, I am not, so what he says, goes. And you want to know something else? I don’t even care why God decided what is clean and what isn’t! It’s not important that I understand God’s reasoning because, frankly, if I could understand everything that God says and does, then he isn’t worthy of my worship.
So today’s message is short and sweet: we don’t need to understand why God says and does what he says and does; actually, we shouldn’t even try to! God is so far above us, and so much wiser than we could ever be, that faith demands we trust whatever he says we should or shouldn’t do as being for our benefit. Understanding why is not necessary.
Just obey, as best as you can, and reap the blessings that God promises for obedience (Deuteronomy 28). The covenants God made with us are not based on him doing what he said he would, but first and foremost on us doing as he said we should. Then, after we obey, he will fulfill his side and bless us.
I don’t know about you, but as for me, I am more than happy to obey God’s instructions as best as I can, totally and blissfully ignorant of the reasons why he gave them.
In my opinion, the need to understand why God gave his commandments shows a lack of trust and might even lead to faithlessness and what might be worse… apostasy.
Didn’t Yeshua say only those who come to God as a trusting child will be saved? So what would you prefer: knowledge in hell or ignorance in heaven?
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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!