B’Chukosai: Walk This Way (Shavuos 5756)

“If you walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them…” (Leviticus 26:3)

Two terms appear in this verse describing God’s laws: “statutes” and “commandments.” Why both these terms? Why does “commandments” not suffice? What does “statutes” add? Also, why does one “walk” in statutes, rather than “keep” them, as one “keeps” the commandments?

The Hebrew word for “statutes” is “chukim.” The word chukim derives from the Hebrew word meaning “to engrave,” or “to carve.” How does engraving a message differ from recording it in plain writing? Writing involves adding a substance on top of another medium to record information. Engraving, however, creates the record within the substance of the medium; it becomes part and parcel of the very object in which it appears.

If the commandments merely lay upon our hearts, externally, as plain writing upon a surface, we cannot go forth according to our own will, we cannot “walk,” for our will does not conform to that of the Almighty. In this case, the commandments become limitations for us.

However, if the commandments penetrate our hearts as an engraving, such that they become part of our very being, our ambitions shall conform to the will of the Almighty, and we may feel free to go forth according to those ambitions, to “walk,” because our will matches that of God.

As we approach Shavuos, the festival that commemorates the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, may we merit to engrave the Torah upon our hearts and walk in the ways of the Almighty.

Based on Mey haShiloach, Parshas B’Chukosai

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