This Shabbat:

Friday Candle Lighting: 7:23 pm
Shabbat Ends: 8:11 pm

Torah Message:

Doing and Guarding

“…My judgments you shall do, and My decrees you shall guard.” (13:17)

When speaking about judgments (mishpatim), the Torah says, “you shall do,” but when referring to the decrees (chukim) it says “you shall guard”.

Why does the Torah change the verb?

The Rambam in chapter six of “Shmoneh Perakim” says that Sages of the Talmud consider that someone whose personality inclines him to sin, and yet he controls his urge, is on a higher level than someone who tends to the good, whereas “philosophers” maintain that someone who is naturally disposed to the good is on a higher than someone whose nature is drawn to sin but refrains from doing so.

He goes on to say that both are true.

When it comes to the commandments of Torah that one’s intellect would anyway oblige, such as stealing and murder, it’s true that a person who has no negative tendency is on a higher level. However, when it comes to the Torah’s supra-logical commandments — the chukim — then someone who would like to transgress, but doesn’t, is on a higher level.

We see this in the words of the Sages: Don’t say “I can’t stand pork,” rather say, “I could certainly eat it, but what can I do? My Father in Heaven forbids it.”

“My judgments,” the ‘logical’ commandments “you shall do,” even though you would instinctively do them anyway, “and My decrees you will guard,” merely because of the Torah’s command.

  • Sources: Ba’al Kitzur Shuchan Aruch, Aperion, as seen in Talelei Orot