When the Going Gets Tough

“…If you go in My statutes and observe My commandments and perform them…” – Vayikra 26:3

אִם בְּחֻקֹּתַי תֵּלֵכוּ וְאֶת מִצְוֹתַי תִּשְׁמְרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם – ויקרא כו, ג

Rashi wonders about the meaning of the phrase, “If you go in my statutes.” Considering that mitzvah observance is stipulated by the next phrase in the verse, “and observe My commandments,” what is the meaning of the command to “go in G-d’s statutes”? Rashi therefore concludes that going in G-d’s statutes must refer to the study of Torah. In Rashi’s words, “to toil in Torah.”

Rashi’s assertion that going in G-d’s statutes requires not only studying the Torah, but also toiling in Torah is supported by the verse’s unusual reference to Torah study with the term bechukosai, “in my statutes.”

When the Going Gets Tough

The Torah generally uses the term chok, statute, in reference to mitzvos that have no logical explanation. The observance of these commandments is naturally very toilsome on an emotional level, as it takes great sacrifice for a man of reason to act in a manner that utterly defies rationality and explanation. The term chok is thus synonymous with challenge and difficulty.

Therefore, when used in the context of Torah study, Rashi understands the term chok as a reference to Torah study that is challenging and toilsome. Particularly, “toil in Torah” can be interpreted as studying the Torah devotedly, even when one does not derive satisfaction and enjoyment from his particular studies. For to “go in my statues,” means to not only study the Torah, but ”to toil in Torah.”

—Toras Menachem vol. 25, pp. 292-293

 

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