By Rabbi Mendy Wolf
Someone approached me recently and asked me an interesting question. There are many Mitzvos whose rationale is clear, he said, and it is therefore easy to appreciate the necessity of their observance. Other Mitzvos, however, are rather difficult to understand. Is it possible for one to perform those Mitzvos in a similarly joyous and committed manner? If yes, how?
This question got me thinking about the chef who was once preparing a gourmet dish for the first time. As worked, he decided that some fresh lemon juice would enhance the recipe. Quickly, he ordered one of the waiters in the restaurant to run to the nearby supermarket and purchase some lemons.
The waiter obediently headed out the door. As he scanned the aisles in the store, looking for the vegetables, he noticed bottles of lemon juice – the “from concentrate” instant thing. “Wow!” he thought to himself. “I’ll get that instead! Why should the chef have to waste his time squeezing the fruit, when he can just pour the ready-made juice straight from the bottle?”
So the well-meaning guy picked up a bottle, paid, and headed back to the restaurant. All proud of himself, he presented his find to the chef, who, he thought, would be very pleased. The look on the chef’s face, however, told the waiter that he had made a big mistake. Lemon juice from concentrate would in no way substitute for real lemons – not in a gourmet dish, anyway. But how was the waiter to know?
He wasn’t. But he should have known to trust the professional and follow his instructions. He had tasted the chef’s work enough times to know the man knew what he was doing. If he had said lemons, he meant lemons, and nothing else would do.
Although we may not be able to appreciate the wisdom of some Mitzvos, we can and should appreciate their source. Perhaps it would help us to recognize that the Mitzvos we have difficulty understanding come from the same Master Chef who provided all the other “rational” laws. From all the Mitzvos whose value is evident, we can learn to trust that G-d knows what He is doing.
What are your thoughts?
Rabbi Mendy Wolf is the educational director for the Institute of American & Talmudic Law, and the director for Project Life, an organization which promotes Jewish values throughout the business community in NYC. R’ Mendy is a sought after teacher and lecturer and resides in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and family. Contact Rabbi Mendy to book him to speak or with feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.