#BlogElul Day 4: Understand

Here are some more of my musings on the topic of understanding.

What’s there to understand?

The older I get, the more I tend to think that understanding is overrated.
I still like understanding; it feels good to “get it”. But so many good things don’t involve understanding at all. For example, eating healthy requires ZERO understanding of why the food is healthy in order to have its desired effect.

But then I make a counter-argument: Doesn’t understanding why the food is healthy persuade us all to eat healthier? Actually, and sadly, the answer is usually “No.” I think that by now, most smokers understand that smoking tobacco is not a good idea overall. That’s just not enough.

Now this is a good defense of “Chukim.” But we have other mitzvos as well, the kinds we should understand. After all, commemorative mitzvos, Eidos, are designed to be understood to a point, so that the associations we make with those kinds of mitzvos bring us closer to God.

And Mishpatim help us understand what is considered moral in the sphere of human relationships.

And the Rambam famously wrote that the imponderables, those chukim, should be understood to a point. We should strive to understand them in a post-facto way.

But like vitamins, and food, and chemicals, the Torah’s Mitzvos “work” regardless of our understanding of them.

By the way, this isn’t the same thing as “blind faith”. Relying on other people’s experiences and assessments is not called blind faith. It’s called common sense.


One thought on “#BlogElul Day 4: Understand

  1. The reason for Eidos might be to give people a purpose and understanding behind a mitzvah. However, much like in your example of healthy foods and weight loss, even when we have the answer before our eyes, we often do not follow through.

    Enter chukim, which are specifically designed to inform us that the value of mitzvos is beyond understanding and rationale. Ultimately, mitzvos are there for us to fulfill God’s will.


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