My daughter, the animal lover, has a father who isn't. A hamster is the biggest pet I've gotten talked into so far. It lives in her room, and basically I wouldn't even know it was there except for one thing -- it's nocturnal.
There is logic to honoring one's parents. There is a rationale for not stealing or murdering. But for purification in a ruddy, bovine shower, why would God ask such a thing of us?
I'll be honest with you. I don't know. But neither did King Solomon, the wisest of men. It seems that this is part of the definition of a chok, that its raison d'etre remains a mystery.
Offering a korban (from the word karov, to come close) is a hands-on project.
But this very human need is not given free rein; rather, the offering of sacrifices is governed by strict regulations, in order that we tangibly relate to God in a true, proper way.
One of the more unusual characters in Jewish literature appears in the Book of Esther.
Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, known as the Rav to his many thousands of students, takes exception to the usual distinction many make between the chukim (decrees) and the mishpatim (judgments). Usually, some think that chukim are nonrational laws, while the mishpatim are rational, easy-to-understand, logical laws. The Rav finds that even the mishpatim are as much pure abstract, and not necessarily explainable laws, rooted in the divine will as are the chukim.
To illustrate this idea, the Rav asked, "Which law would you say is the most logical?" Usually the answer would be lo tirtzach (don't murder). Everyone knows that this is a logical law, without which society couldn't exist.
Jacob spent 20 long years in the home of his father-in-law, Laban, before he could return to the land of Canaan, his home and homeland.
This week's Torah portion opens with a fascinating topic: the psyche of a soldier at war, and the ethical boundaries that even a soldier must observe.
Jerusalem, in her pinnacle of glory, was the center of wisdom and Divine service.