15 Tamuz 5781 / Friday, June 25, 2021 | Torah Reading: Balak
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Beyond Logic    

Beyond Logic

The human intellect, as prodigious as it may be, is nothing compared to Divine wisdom. One who attempts to understand Hashem is attempting the utterly impossible...


Translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody

King Solomon, the wisest of all men who ever walked the face of the earth, said, "Those who act in faith (emuna) are His desire" (Proverbs 12:22).
One who desires to understand the Torah before he believes in Torah will be left empty-handed. He'll neither attain knowledge of Torah nor emuna. King David says in Psalm 119, "All Your commandments are emuna!" In other words, even the seemingly logical commandments that prohibit murder, stealing and lying are beyond human intellect. One cannot faithfully observe them without emuna, for if these commandments clash with one's vested personal interests, he'll cast them aside. Whereas the Torah's commandments are truth that never changes, one's intellect is inconsistent, subject to frequent changes, influences, convenience and self-interest.
If the seemingly logical commandments of Torah defy rationalism, then a person without emuna has no chance of understanding the seemingly illogical commandments of Torah such as Shabbat, Kashruth, and family purity. These are all commandments that a person observes by virtue of emuna. When a person eats Kosher or observes the Sabbath because he considers them logical, the day will come when his intellect will tell him that they are illogical.
For example, many so-called "enlightened" people claim that the Torah forbade pork because in the days of Moses there was no refrigeration and trichinosis was a severe problem. But, as they so erroneously claim because of their lack of emuna, with modern refrigeration and sanitary processing, this is no longer the case, so one should be allowed to eat pork. With emuna, though, we know that refrigeration and sanitation has nothing to do with the prohibition against eating the flesh of swine. We refrain from doing so because we believe in the Torah and the Torah forbids it. Logic and science have nothing to do with the Torah's commandments, all of which are the product of Divine wisdom that transcends our realm of understanding.
On the other hand, no force in the world can cause a person to stray if his observance of the Torah's commandments results from strong emuna. The truth is clarified in his mind - this is the way Hashem wants me to serve Him, whether or not it seems logical. His emuna is the rudder that keeps him on course even in the stormiest of seas.
King David therefore declares, also in Psalm 119, "I have chosen the way of emuna." Hashem's will is his first consideration, for his emuna precedes his intellect. Whether or not he understands, his emuna dictates his course of action. He therefore is steadfast and consistent, immune to self-interest and bodily or outside influences. He has a clear mind and is never confused, for he clings to emuna.
King Solomon continues in King David's (his father) footsteps when he says, "Those who act in faith (emuna) are His desire". Hashem wants us to serve Him by way of emuna, and not by way of logic. But there's a great benefit in doing so: when a person puts emuna before intellect, he eventually attains a much greater power of intellect and understanding. Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that if a person first observes a commandment with simple emuna, eventually he will comprehend the logic of the commandment, for the power of emuna is so great that it is capable of elevating a person to a level that transcends normal human intellect. How? Emuna enables us to cling to Hashem, and by clinging to Hashem, we gain a measure of Divine wisdom, each person according to the level of his or her connection to Hashem.
King Solomon also says, "There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against Hashem" (Proverbs 21:30).
We must be aware that human intellect, as prodigious as it may be, is nothing compared to Divine wisdom. One who attempts to understand Hashem is attempting the utterly impossible. Even the greatest intellectual disciplines and sciences, whether nuclear physics or electron microscopy, are only minuscule portions of Divine wisdom. Our greatest sages, despite what they succeeded in accomplishing and grasping through years of arduous learning, nevertheless always came back to the starting point of emuna. They did so not because of their humility, but because emuna is truth.
Although almost all of us have driving licenses, few of us can explain or even understand how a combustion engine works. We all see, but how many of us can explain how the human eye functions? Everyone eats, but are we aware of the our body breaks down proteins? If we don't even understand ourselves or the cars we drive, how do we expect to understand the great galaxies and the spiritual realm? How can we be so presumptuous in thinking that our feeble human minds can grasp The Creator, whose knowledge and wisdom is limitless?
Even if a person is a genius, he cannot begin to understand Hashem. That's what King Solomon meant when he said, "There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against Hashem". Compared to Hashem's wisdom, our wisdom is nil.
But where we lack wisdom and understanding, we cling to emuna. By clinging to emuna, we cling to Hashem.

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