The conversation had repeated itself so many times, Sara could almost predict the exact dialogue.
She and Barry would be having a difference of opinion, each seeing the matter from their own perspective. He would explain to her the rational merits of his position. She would counter by elaborating on why, from her experience, he erred and it should be done her way.
Please, do it just for me!
Whether it was a repair project, a special favor, or a purchase for their home, the particulars didn’t matter. Nor was it relevant whether it was something big or something small; the pattern consistently repeated itself.
Eventually the couple’s difference of opinion would escalate into a full blown disagreement, with Barry adamantly refusing Sara’s request and even dismissing it as trivial or pointless.
Invariably, Sara would end up sulking, Barry would put on a cold, indifferent demeanor, and the task that Sara had requested would remain undone.
Then one day, Sara tried a different approach.
This time, Sara didn’t debate the merits of her perspective. She didn’t even explain why she wanted or needed the particular thing done “her way.”
Instead, Sara stated her request and then simply said: “Honey, I know you this isn’t the way you see it. But please, do it just for me!”
Barry’s reaction astonished her. He gazed at her rather intently and then agreeably acquiesced.
While watching Barry wordlessly doing what she had asked, Sara had time to think about her new approach.
It dawned on her that while she did not explain the logic of her request, it underlined why in fact she was expecting something of Barry to begin with. By asking Barry to “do it for me”, Sara brought to light the very core of their relationship, irrespective of any specific issue. It brought to the surface a far greater bond between her and Barry than any logical discussion could ever have–their essential connection. A connection so deep it surpassed reason and logic.
Though we need to live lives of reason, priorities and understanding, chukim remind us that we also need those moments and situations that help us reach an underlying truth. While the rational is limited to each individual’s experience and conception of reality, there is a deeper, fundamental bond, an infinite bond that unites us with our Creator and His will.
And that is a bond that is not something that any circumstances–any challenges, speculations or taunts (such as described in the above-quoted commentary by Rashi)– can ever interfere with. By performing the chukim we are showing that our connection with G-d goes beyond the constructs of logic, meaning or purpose. It is an attachment that reaches the very core of our relationship–the part of us that feels so united with G-d that we do the chukim simply because He asks us to do them.
In a spiritual sense, when we recognize how much our soul thirsts for G-d, simply performing His will for no reason other than it is His will is the most gratifying experience. When we are not motivated by our personal sense of spiritual fulfillment, nor our intellectual enjoyment, but simply because we want to be attached to something greater than ourselves–we have revealed our absolute connection and bond with G-d.
Miriam demonstrated this absolute negation of reason in order to perform G-d’s will from the youngest age, even while in the bitter Egyptian exile. Her heroism came to light as a youngster when she defied King Pharaoh’s decree of killing the newborn boys. She and her mother risked their lives because they “feared G-d and did not act as the King of Egypt commanded them” (Exodus 1:8).
The Midrash explains that Miriam courageously confronted her own father who had separated from her mother as a result of Pharaoh’s wicked decree. She convinced him that he must follow G-d’s command unquestioningly, including the precept of “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 9:1).
The basis of her argument was that even if it didn’t make sense, we must do G-d’s will because it is His will, irrespective of logic or consequences.
Miriam’s father recognized the truth and sincerity of his young daughter’s words and the result of her actions was ultimately the birth of Moses.
Within the deep bitterness of the Egyptian exile, Miriam intuitively understood the simple truth–that our relationship with G-d is not dependent on our circumstances, personal likes or logical comprehension.
The message of Miriam’s life, as reflected in the miraculous well of water that was provided for the nation in her merit, contains the same message as the chukim of the Torah. We are not in this relationship with G-d only during the good times of our lives, when we discern personal gain, growth or gratification.
Our relationship with G-d is one that can even surface in the depths of the Egyptian exile, in the depths of our personal darkness and incomprehension. Because as basic and crucial as water is for our survival, this, too, is a relationship that touches the very core of our being–the very essence of who and what we are.
WELLSPRINGS OF DEVOTION
July 27, 2012 by momsfirstscreenn