In this week’s Parsha the Torah says, “And you will do (Vaasitem) my ‘Chukim’ and my ‘Mishpatim’ you will guard (Tishmeru), and you will dwell securely on the Land” (Vayikra 25:18). When talking about Chukim, laws whose meaning we do not understand, the Pasuk it uses the word “do.” When talking about Mishpatim, however, it uses the word “guard.” What is the reason for this? Why must the Torah use these two different verbs to describe Chukim and Mishpatim?
Rabbi Frand provides an ingenious answer to this puzzling change of verbs. He states that the answer can be found by analyzing the different tests inherent in Chukim and Mishpatim. In Chukim, laws which we do not understand, the challenge is that without understanding the reason for these seemingly illogical Mitzvot, one might say that is not important to observe them. Since it is already very challenging to observe Chukim, the Torah uses the word “do.” However, what could be the challenge for Mishpatim when their reasons are known? Rabbi Frand answers that with Mishpatim, one must be careful not to make certain assumptions about Mitzvot based on their explanations. The Pasuk is teaching us that even if we would think a Mitzvah would not apply in a certain instance because its reason would not apply, we must observe the Mitzvah nevertheless. Therefore, the Torah uses the word “guard” to teach us that Mishpatim cannot be meddled with and must be guarded.
This teaches us an important lesson regarding personal daily lives. We often find ourselves in a situation in which a Mitzvah that we would rather avoid comes up, and we make excuses to exempt ourselves from fulfilling it. The word “guard” comes to teach us that we cannot do this, and even when it may be a strain, we are obligated to perform every mitzvah and to serve Hashem with all our hearts.