Apply Then Appreciate by Ben Book


Perhaps the most inspiring event which takes place in our nation’s history is surprisingly not the actual receiving of the Torah, but rather the national unity which was accomplished right before the giving of the Torah and the subsequent agreement by the nation to accept it. As Moshe is reading the Torah aloud to Bnei Yisrael, the Jewish people declare, "Na’aseh VeNishma," "We will do and we will obey(Shemot 24:7). While this scene is one of the hallmark episodes in Jewish history, the obvious question is, how can the Bnei Yisrael accept the Torah upon themselves before they know what it entails? The Kotzker Rebbe once said:


The world is filled with wise and learned men, researchers and philosophers, who spend their time pondering and philosophizing Hashem’s existence and function. How much can they possibly come to understand? No more than the limits of their own intelligence. The Jewish people, however, were given tools—the Mitzvot—with which they could reach far beyond their own limitations. This is the meaning of the words, ‘We shall do and we shall hear!’ If we have tools with which to act, then we will be able to hear, to understand, to attain anything, even in the highest and loftiest realms beyond our normal and mortal capabilities.


The Kotzker Rebbe is teaching a fundamentally important lesson with regards to the observance of the Torah. While we can attempt to understand every Mitzvah and Halachah, which is important and necessary, it should not preclude our performance of these Mitzvot. We must be willing to do what Hashem does without contemplating the essence of the Mitzvah and by doing so, we will actually come to a greater understanding of and appreciation for the Mitzvha. For example, Chazal teach us that Shabbat is Me’ein Olam HaBa, it offers us a taste of the World to Come. One cannot truly comprehend and internalize the laws of Shabbat without experiencing a Shabbat on their own. We can all easily appreciate what a difference it makes to have the correct tools to grow. Only by keeping Shabbat first can one ever hope to appreciate this concept and learn to grow from it. The complete commitment of the Jewish at Har Sinai teaches us is that we as a nation thrive on our performance of the Mitzvot first, and thinking about what it means later. Through this, we will be able to appreciate the Mitzvot in the greatest way possible and once again achieve the status of Bnei Yisrael’s, “Na’aseh VeNishma

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