Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tisha B'Av - Its Inner Light

With credit to artist DAVID ASCALON

Coincidence is a misnomer. Nothing happens in this world for naught. Most especially so with the Jewish people. Most especially with God's Temple in Jerusalem.

Nearly 2,000 years ago the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. The Jewish people were forced to scatter across the globe, banished from their beloved Land of Israel. Why? Was it a coincidence?

The destruction of the Temple is a phase in the rebuilding of the 3rd temple. Without a destruction, the pinnacle the third Temple shall reach could not be attainable. As a necessary prerequisite to rise well beyond the previous level of holiness, a descent was a necessary component to achieve the ultimate ascent, as sure as a seed must first decompose to become a tree. The first two Temples were built by human hands. The third Holy Temple will be built by God, with only about 1% of it left for finishing by man. But to merit this final and eternal Temple, Jews had to undergo exile for nearly two millennia, to wrought a refinement that only an exile, a long exile, can accomplish.

Nevertheless, despite the role the exile has on the Jewish spirit, the Jewish presence in all countries they exist across the globe - has another purpose too. And that is to raise the people around them to higher spiritual levels as well. When Abraham began his life in the Middle East, he was the sole person in the entire world who recognized the One and Only God of the universe. Since his time, many more have come to recognize what to Jewish people is today obvious. However, even today, no more than a third, I reckon, of people the world over recognize and believe in the One and Only God, and this is sad.

The Jewish people also have influenced their Gentile peers in many other respects and have changed their values exceedingly. Look at the world today, in terms of peaceful countries living side by side, with defined borders, with humanitarian respect for each other, and realize that this phenomenon of borders more than a hundred years ago never existed. Then the law of might held sway and borders were as fluid as were the armies they encompassed.

The Jewish people are a light to all nations and the foremost light with which they illuminate comes from the Torah. Without the light of Torah, for example, the dream and manifest creation of the free land of America would never have happened. The founding fathers in this land of liberty, and every great American today who espouses love of God, love of freedom and love of country, have been touched by Jewish Torah values.

Tisha B'Av for Jews is a day of mourning for on this calendar day the destruction of both Temples occurred. But it is also the day the supernal light impregnating this darkness took conception. The destruction was not for its own sake but rather for the sake of a higher, positive result. That's why on that day the birth of Moshiach's light came into being. It is the brightest light yet to shine, and glimmers of it are breaking through the fog of a turbulent world, at least for those whose eyes are keenly focused to the teachings of our sages and rabbis. This bright light will soon shine upon the earth, will raise the earth by orders of magnitude in spirituality, will reward the good people with this new insight, it will sweep away evil and will bring on the utopia this day was meant for in the first place - may it happen very soon, in our own days.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Moshiach: Dead or Alive?
My Take on a Gemora in Sanhedrin 98b

The Talmud depicts the character of the Jewish Messiah: "If he is among the living, he is someone like Rabbi Yehuda; If he is from the dead, he is someone like Daniel." Why them specifically? Says Rashi, "because they were extraordinarily righteous and absorbed much suffering."

Rashi explains "If he is from the dead":
"If you want an example in this generation of someone who qualifies to be Moshiach, it's Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi. And if the candidate would be of a previous era who would qualify, it could be Daniel. This phrase 'if you want an example' doesn't presuppose one way or the other.

In other words, he can be from the dead or from the living.

Then Rashi continues:
"And another version:
If such a personality we see today, it's Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi ... or, were he to be as exemplified by a personage of yesteryear, he would be like Daniel."

In his 2nd explanation Rashi is saying that were Moshiach to come presently, he would come only from the present generation;  and worthy candidate examples, from past and present, who Moshiach would resemble (Rabbi Yehuda or someone like Daniel) are offered.

Rashi thereby explains that Moshiach can come from both the dead and certainly from the present.

The Rebbe's 'shita', i.e., the Rebbe's usual way of looking at opposing views in gemora,  is always to find a mediating position where in fact both positions bear validity. Both positions in fact can be understood as the same position, or are not arguing at all.

Well here, how so? How can "from the dead" and "from the living", two opposing views, be rectified to being compatible with each other?

Chabad chassidim, especially those who believe the Rebbe is Moshiach, have no problem here weaving together both perspectives into one. The Rebbe, to be sure had been buried, just as sure as Yaakov Avinu was buried. But just as Yaakov remains alive, despite the burial, and in a way that we don't even expect to understand but accept on full faith because Talmud Torah tells us so, so too the Rebbe, who on the 3rd of Tammuz took an exit from this world as we see it, is well and alive, albeit invisible to us, and is Moshiach who happens to be both "dead" and "alive" too.

As a follower of the Rebbe, my view is slanted. In every generation a head of the generation is planted by God upon the body of the Jewish people, ever since the first generation of Jews, the generation of Moses. No leader of the Jewish people is physically apparent today, in this generation, yet the Rebbe's outreach, the Rebbe's influence and his war against the enemies of the Jews is today still gaining momentum and quite apparent - for those who want to see.

We waited with anticipation. This generation, the Rebbe said, is the last generation of exile and the very first generation of the Era of Redemption. All indications point to the Rebbe as having been granted by God the rank of King Moshiach.

There are those who stoutly trust the natural events of Tammuz 3, 5754, as decisive, thus proving that the Rebbe's Messianic kingship had been forfeited, that he was thus disqualified for the crown.

Others, as myself, believe the natural events on that fateful day, changed - not the true supernatural state of King Moshiach - but rather our perception of him; That we were thrown into a sensory "darkness" in order to withstand the test alluded to at the end of the book of Daniel (12:12), where Rashi asserts that Moshiach "will reveal himself, then hide himself, and then again reveal himself." And, as Daniel says, "Happy will be he who stands the test of this intermediate period of concealment!"

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Torah-Sages, Christians and Christianity

A man wagered 400 zuz he could vex Hillel. When he failed and lost the wager, Hillel consoled him: "It's worth losing twice 400 zuz for Hillel not to get angry." (Shabbos 31a) Such is the importance of guarding one's temper.

Hillel is a blessing to the Jewish people and a blessing to the world. Like Hillel, all Torah-sages beamed a perfection of mind and character, and were very close to God. Because God loves Israel above all nations (Deut. 10:14-15, Ex. 33:16-17, Jer. 31:3, Malachi 1:2-3), therefore God loves the Torah-sages above all people in the world.

Hillel, the paragon of humility, kindliness and wisdom, was leader of the Jews throughout the reign of Herod and his son Archelaus. His contemporaries included the sages Jonathan ben Uziel, Akaviah ben Mehalalel, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, Bava ben Buta, and many others - all beloved, wise men. The latter once got a lamp broken over his head by a foolish woman. This disciple of Shammai then heaped upon her his blessings.

The Nazarene's Jewish followers called the Torah-sages "hypocrites" and "vipers". They mentioned no names as the targets of their slander; They just took a broad swipe against the whole lot of them. (Who do YOU think were the crooked and the venomous? Ignorami betray themselves as they project their own failures upon others.)

The Gentiles of the time who followed these ignorami of Israel did not especially hate the sages any more than they hated Jews in general. Only these ignorami of Israel especially hated the Torah-sages.

Which goes to show you that the Christians themselves are better than Christianity!

The evil inclination of these ignorami of Israel found it necessary to concoct slanderous insults against the holy nation, particularly against its elite representatives, to ensure that no Gentile emulate the beloved Jewish ways.

Until today you have huge numbers of human beings who cannot take their minds to a higher level, to separate dogma from clear thought, and therefore continue to plod the path some ignorant Jews paved for them, one that envisages a god in man's image, rather than take the high road and trust the Jews of today who still follow Torah and the Torah-sages - so more of the world could recognize the One and Only God, and be all the more thankful for it!

The concept of a pure God they pollute with an image of man, much like Muslims pollute the purity of God with their own animalistic inclinations; Thereby the goodness and oneness of God deteriorates from a pristine concept into an inferior one fouled by lowly human projection or beastly desires.

(Taken in part from the prolific Rabbi/author/teacher/savant Avigdor Miller ע''ה, in his book "Sing You Righteous")

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Who is the Son of God?

Who is the Son of God?

This "Suffering Servant" Holds the Key to Your Salvation

by Bryan Ellison

You were created so you could recognize your Creator, love Him, and serve Him here on earth. But do you know who God really is? The answer to this question surprises many people.

It is an easy mistake to think one is worshipping the one, true God, while actually serving a false one. To help prevent this mistake, God described Himself in the Bible, warning us to remember how He appeared when He gave the Ten Commandments:

"And the Eternal spoke to you from the middle of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form, only a voice...." (Deut. 4:12)

"And guard your souls carefully, for you did not see any form on the day the Eternal spoke to you in Horev from the middle of the fire, lest you become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any physical shape, the form of a man or woman." (Deut. 4:15-16).

In other words, God has no physical shape. He is infinite and unlimited, and never appears in the form of any human.

Nor does God have any "partners". He alone is the only One Who brings us eternal salvation, as He says in the Bible:

"Am I not the Eternal? And there is no other god besides Me — a just God and savior; There is none else. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God and there is none else." (Isaiah 45:21-22).

Anyone who makes the mistake of worshipping a man for spiritual salvation will be betrayed; "Don't put your trust ... in a human, for he cannot render salvation." (Psalms 146:3). Eternal life comes directly from God, Who is One and infinite, and not through any mediator.

God's Firstborn Son

So how has God brought His message of truth to the world? According to the Bible, God declares that He does have a special son whose mission is to bring His blessings and His salvation to the entire world.

Who is this son? Many religious leaders have offered their opinions on the identity of His son, but really we should find out God's "opinion" on this matter.

In the book of Exodus, God openly proclaims His son to the world: "Thus says God: My firstborn son is Israel." (Exodus 4:22).

"Israel" is the Jewish people—all of them. The Jews were chosen by God to be His special "son," to be, in the words of the Bible, "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" for the whole world (Exodus 19:6).

All people are God's children, of course, but the Jews are like a "firstborn son" who brings God's word to his younger brothers. Every person who learns from the Jews, and helps them fulfill their special role, becomes a part of God's kingdom.

Unfortunately, many times people have not listened to the Jews. For many centuries the Christian church killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews — men, women, and children — to prevent their holy message from reaching the rest of the world. Today, church leaders still try to silence the Jewish message by sending missionaries to convert Jews to Christianity!

The Bible tells us the Jews would suffer greatly, not just for their own sins, but also for the sake of bringing God's word to a rebellious world: "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Persuade Jerusalem and call to her, for her time is full, for her sins have been repaid; for she has received from the hand of God double for all her sins." (Isaiah 40:1-2).

Salvation Through the Law

The Jewish people have been taught the secret to eternal life and blessings for all people, and now they finally have the freedom to reveal God's message.

According to that message, the key that unlocks the door to a personal relationship with God is His Law—one part for the Jews, the other part for the rest of the world.

At Mount Sinai, God gave the Ten Commandments (and hundreds of others) to the Jewish people. These laws apply only to the Jews in their special role as the world's spiritual leaders.

But for everyone else, God gave the Seven Commandments (and dozens of other laws). These commandments were given to Noah, after he left the ark that saved his family from the great flood, as an eternal covenant with all the peoples of the earth (Genesis 8:20 - 9:17). Since Mount Sinai, the Jews have carried the message of these seven laws to all the peoples.

A non-Jew who follows these commandments is called a Hasidic gentile, and he receives both eternal life and God's blessings in his earthly life. By doing good works exactly as God commands, he earns a close relationship with his Creator.

A Hasidic gentile celebrates certain "Old Testament" holidays - not Christian holidays. He prays to God in the proper way, according to God's instructions. He also helps the poor, and he guides his fellow humans — including non-religious Jews—back to God's Law. A Hasidic Gentile learns how to redeem every part of his life from the emptiness of modern existence, becoming a "soldier" in God's spiritual army.

The Messiah's Message to the World

By asking the Jews for spiritual guidance and turning back to "Old Testament" Law, a Noahide also accomplishes the most important task of all: He helps bring the Messiah to redeem the entire world.

The Messiah is a Jewish king who will gather all the Jewish people to Israel, destroy all evil, rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and bring true freedom to the world by returning everyone to the Law. He will institute God's eternal kingdom here on earth.

The Messiah will teach the Word of God to all nations, causing Christianity and all other religions to disappear. The Bible says everyone will become a Hasidic Gentile, thirsting for the ancient Truth:

"O God, my strength and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of distress, gentiles will come to You from the ends of the earth and say, 'We have inherited only lies from our fathers, vanity and things which are not useful. Can a man make gods for himself, and they are not gods?' Therefore, behold, I will cause them to know, this time I will let them know My hand and My strength, and they will know that My Name is Hashem." (Jeremiah 16:19-21).

In our generation, the spiritual leader of the Jewish people — and therefore of the whole world — is Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (known as the "Lubavitcher Rebbe"), in New York. He is a righteous prophet who has never sinned, nor even been tempted, in his entire life; Indeed, he has brought hundreds of thousands of Jews and gentiles back to the Law. Moreover, he is a direct descendant of King David.

The Rebbe has revealed that the Messiah will finally arrive now, in our generation, amidst great miracles. He has also announced that every Jew, and every gentile, is a representative of God to help bring the Messiah immediately.

An Urgent Call to Action

In the book of Genesis, God told Abraham that his descendants, the Jewish people, would bless the world with the light of God's Word. Only by turning to the Jews can anyone join God's holy kingdom: "And I will bless those who bless you, but I will curse those who curse you; And through you all the families of the earth will be blessed." (Genesis 12:3)

God promised Abraham this covenant of priesthood would apply to all the Jews, forever: "And I establish my covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you, throughout their generations, for an eternal covenant." (Genesis 17:7).

Regardless of your race, religious background, or nationality, God is calling on you to help the Jewish people bring the Messiah. You don't have to be Jewish to help; In fact, Hasidic Gentiles can serve God in special ways that Jews cannot, since God's Law is stricter for Jews.

You can start today, simply by asking for more details. Don't miss this exciting opportunity!
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Bryan runs at least these 3 sites. The first two provide a wealth of wonderful resources for Noahides. The 3rd exposes conspiracies and corruption at the highest levels. There may be those taken aback by his perspective, but these, I believe, can only be naive. The world everywhere, including Israel, has everything backwards, and it's only because leadership is dishonorable and criminal; They seek power and wealth while trampling on man's dignity and unalienable rights.

Monday, July 09, 2012

248 "Members" in the Human Body - The Bartenura's Definition

I require elucidation on the Mishnah (Taharot 1:8) where it enumerates 248 "אברים" in the human male. (252 in women). What does that term mean - anatomically? The Mishnah starts its count of 248 by enumerating "members" of the foot. [Click on the above image to enlarge it.]

The Mishna says:
"Man comprises 248 'אברים': 
30 in one foot, 6 in each digit (5 x 6 = 30); 10 in the ankle, ... etc."

According to the Mishna, then, each foot comprises 40 (30 + 10) "אברים".

Obviously "Eivarim" cannot mean BONES, because the number of bones in each foot is 26. (7 in the ankle, and 19 more more distally.) The Mishnah's total count is 14 more than the foot's number of bones!

Below the ankle, the Mishnah says "6 in each digit" (5 x 6 = 30). It cannot mean bones because anatomically the 5 digits comprise 19 bones. The Mishnah's count exceeds this bone count by 11!

Each ankle has 7 tarsal bones; Not 10. The Mishnah's count is 3 more!

Looking into the MUSCLE groups involved also does not match the Mishnah's count of "אברים".

So "member", "limb" or "component" - whatever you want to call it - what is it? What does the Mishna mean by the term "Eivarim" (אברים)?

We can begin to flesh out an answer by the definition of אבר
as given by the Bartenura:
צריך שיהיה בהם בשר וגידים ועצמות ובכך הוא נחשב אבר
That is, an "Eiver" must have bone, sinew and skeletal muscle, as a composite, to be called אבר.

Perhaps, then, אבר means a group of these tissues that collectively subserves a function. The foot therefore must have 30 such functions. If so, different functional units (אברים) probably overlap in their anatomical components with other such functional collective units.

Now consider this: In order for a skeletal muscle to work, it has to cross a joint. Which means that two bones are a minimum necessary to achieve function! And of course two muscles and two tendons are also the very minimum required for the joint to move. So notice the accuracy of the Bartenura's use of nouns in the plural!

By function I mean movement; Which implies these movements take place across joints! So in deciding what an אבר is, we ought to concentrate on the joint(s) involved!

Here's what one sports medicine site writes about "Foot and Toe Movements".
Toe movements take place at the joints. These joints are capable of motion in two directions: plantar flexion or dorsiflexion. In addition, the joints permit abduction and adduction of the toes.

The foot as a whole (excluding the toes) has two movements: inversion and eversion. All the joints of the hindfoot and midfoot contribute to these complex movements that ordinarily are combined with movements at the ankle joint.
Thus we have 1) plantar and 2) dorsal flexion, as well as 3) inversion, 4) eversion, 5) adduction and 6) abduction of the toes, in conjunction with the ankle. That's 6 movements - for 5 toes = 6 x 5 = 30, a number we find in the Mishnah. Is this significant? Probably not because I cannot account for 10 movements of the ankle as per the Mishnah. And the idea that "joints" are central also presents a problem because the foot and ankle have 33 joints!

More perplexing is the incongruity between "Eivarim" and the anatomy of the knee. The KNEE joint gets a count of FIVE in the Mishnah. Are 5 different movements possible at the knee joint? The following chart suggests YES!

Here's a chart I found on the knee's movements (and muscles involved). Note that there are FIVE - just as the Mishnah states!

Does the rest of the Mishnah appear to coincide with the above "movements hypothesis"? I'd appreciate your input to determine the real English equivalent of an "Eiver"?

One thing for sure: The 248 “Eivarim” relate to the 248  Positive Commandments of the 613 set! It may well be, therefore, the behaviors involved in these positive commandments can clarify the answer for us.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Eisner - the True Embodiment of Never Again

Remember the incident 3 months ago with Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, who hit a leftist rabble-rouser with his rifle? Here's an article that relates to that incident, by Camie Davis - a Noahide lady!

It’s time for Yom HaShoah, a day when Jews in Israel stop to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. It’s very moving to think of an entire country literally stopping in its tracks to remember and to say, “Never again!”

What’s sad, pathetic really, is that the minute so many of the liberal Jews, including many members of the government, go back to the routine of their daily lives, they forgot. They completely forget and enable the harming of Jews “again” everyday.

Last year on Yom Hashoah, Netanyahu made a moving speech in which he said, "Has the world learned the lesson of all this? I doubt it. Have we learned it? I believe so. May the whole world know that when Israel and the Israel Defense Forces say 'Never again,' we mean every word.” Blah, blah, blah. I’m sure his speech this year will be just as moving. And just as empty when measured against the Israeli government’s actions.

Dayenu. It would have been enough if only the Israeli government kicked Jews out of their homes and destroyed Jewish homes to appease the enemies of Israel, but learned a lesson. Dayenu, it would have been enough if only the Israeli Supreme Court bent over backwards to give away Jewish land, but learned a lesson. Dayenu, it would have been enough if only the Israeli government “negotiated” (i.e. sold their soul to the devil) year after year with terrorists hell bent on Israel’s destruction, but learned a lesson. Dayenu, it would have been enough if only Israel apologized for defending herself against the flotilla terrorists, but learned a lesson. Dayenu, it would have been enough if only Israel showed restraint while over 12,500 missiles were launched at its citizens, but learned a lesson. Dayenu, it would have been enough if only the Israeli government released hundreds of murderers from prison, but learned a lesson. Dayenu, it would have been enough if only the Israeli government shut down viable, terrorists-stopping road blocks to appease a U.S. government that has no idea how to fight terrorism, but learned a lesson.

But alas, as we approach another holiday, that one would hope would shake the liberal Jews and Israeli government out of their stupor and remind them of how NOT to let their enemies destroy them, they instead choose to remain in their appeasement stupor and continue to aid and abet the enemies of Israel. Again.

Bravo to Lt. Col. Eisner who recognizes that Israel is at war. A war that has many fronts and participants, but who all share the same common goal; to destroy Israel.

It’s safe to assume that Eisner recently celebrated Purim. It’s also safe to assume that deep inside his soul, he realized on Purim that the holiday had a bit more meaning to it than eating hamentashen and cheering Mordechai and booing Haman. He must have realized, as do so many other Jewish patriots, that the holy, righteous way to live, everyday, not just incrementally on holidays, is to fight and defend Jewish lives and fight and defend the land of Israel.

It’s pathetic enough that the world cries, “Foul!” when an Israeli soldier actually takes a defensive action against an enemy of the state as Eisner did. But it is sickening when the leaders in the Israeli government join in with the world and point fingers at a soldier, who surprise, surprise, actually acted like a first-class soldier instead of a first-class wuss.

So if you happen to hear or read any of Netanyahu’s Yom HaShoah speech this year, just remember he is the same person who publicly said this about one of his own people who embodies and actually lives out the words, “Never again!” About Eisner, he said, “This kind of behavior is not typical of the IDF's soldiers and commanders, and has no place in the IDF and the state of Israel."

What a shame that defending the Jewish people and its land, according to the Prime Minister of Israel, has no place in Israel. May the holy, righteous branch of David soon rise up in our day, who will not only defend the honor of Hashem, but will defend the Jewish people and the land of Israel.
Her blog - here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Fundamental Differences Between Judaism & Christianity

A Comparison of
Judaism and
by Bryan Ellison (link)

Judaism is G-d-centered, selfless
Christianity is Man-centered, selfish

Bible (5 books of Moses) written by G-d, with Moses as secretary
New Testament written by man

G-d creates man in His image; thus man has a soul and free will
Man creates G-d in his image; thus Jesus is declared to be a deity

Bible (Hebrew Scriptures) quotes G-d directly, in His own words, over 3800 times
New Testament never quotes G-d a single time, other than quotes from the "Old Testament"

Man's purpose is to serve G-d through His Law—the commandments
G-d's purpose is to serve man by providing salvation—for free

G-d's commandments are binding obligations
G-d's Law is a nice idea, but it is only "fruits of the spirit," not a duty

Jews believe in the Bible because G-d said so (orally)
Christians believe in G-d because the Bible tells them to

Jews study the Bible only according to the oral tradition received from G-d
Christians interpret the Bible according to their own ideas and opinions

Jews believe in Moses because G-d gave him authority
Christians believe in Jesus because he gave himself authority

G-d controls evil, using it to punish sinners and for other purposes
The devil controls evil, using it to rebel against G-d

By doing G-d's commandments, man brings G-d closer
Christians wait until G-d brings Himself closer to man before agreeing to do any good works

Man follows G-d's commandments according to G-d's own detailed instructions, whether or not it makes sense to man
Man uses his own reasoning and interpretation to decide what are "good works" and what are not

Man transforms the world to reveal its Creator -- to bring G-d's eternal kingdom here on earth
Man leaves the world behind, escaping earth to enjoy heaven

G-d creates and runs the world to serve Him
Evil controls the world, which will ultimately be destroyed

Man has direct access to G-d through prayer and repentance; any mediator only gets in the way and blocks the relationship
Man has no access to G-d except through a man (Jesus)

Doing G-d's commandments is a privilege an opportunity that provides true freedom
G-d's law is a burden and a curse that enslaves and condemns man

G-d made eternal covenants—1 with Jews, 1 with gentiles—and He keeps His promises
G-d "changed His mind," throwing away the old covenant for a new one

Monday, July 02, 2012

Making Sense of the Non-Sensible

Torah's commandments subdivide into 3 classes. One class makes no common sense. The laws of the Red Heifer fall into this class. Its ashes purify the impure and make impure him who purifies.

Rules for the Red Heifer begin with this awkward introduction (Num. 19:1): "These decrees pertain to the Torah ... " - when it should have said "These decrees pertain to the Red Heifer ... "; Why should the term "Torah" replace the term "Red Heifer" when, in fact, the latter is the subject of the entire chapter?

Commandments that make common sense are pleasurable to obey. Nevertheless, commandments that make no sense have their own advantage: The observer of that commandment feels he does so only because God commanded him. He feels therefore, by doing it, bonded to His Creator.

Commandments that make sense often lack this aspect. For example, in respecting his parents, one may well be oblivious of God during his preoccupation with his parents. He enjoys the interaction and gets carried away or so involved that he easily could forget about God who commanded him to respect his parents in the first place.

Whereas, for a commandment that lacks common sense there's no other reason to do it EXCEPT BECAUSE God so commanded it.

This we know why the Torah writes "These are the decrees of the Torah ..." instead of the expected "These are the decrees of the Red Heifer ...". Torah thereby suggests that all of its commandments ought to share the uniqueness there is in the laws of the Red Heifer. Just like these commandments one should do because God commanded us, so too all of Torah's commandments we ought to do because God commanded us, irrespective of the rationale or apparent value behind them.

For example, in honoring one's parents, one should do it out of consideration of God's wishes - primarily. If then one gains satisfaction therefrom, so much the better, but the very first reason ought to be consideration of the divine will.

The name of this week's Torah portion, Chukat (חוקת) reinforces this same lesson. This Hebrew word, which means "decree", as in "These are the decrees ...", also shares its Hebrew root with another verb - "to engrave" (חקיקה). As, in fact, the Ten Commandments were engraved in stone.

Unlike something written on parchment, where ink and parchment are separable entities, words engraved in stone are part and parcel of the stone into which they are etched. The words and the stone are inseparable.

Similarly, all of God's commandments need to be inseparable from our bond to God. Whether it's an understandable commandment, such as "Don't kill", or whether it is "Keep My Sabbath", or be they the laws of the Red Heifer, God wants that we fulfil all His commandments as if they were engraved in out psyche because He willed it.

This is, after all, what Jews proclaimed and as a result of this proclamation they received the gift of the Torah; They said "We will [first] do, and [then] we'll try to understand!" (נעשה ונשמע) (Ex.24:7)