web analytics
March 27, 2015 / 7 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Torah’s System Of Self-Perfection


The-Shmuz

“A cow or a sheep, it and its child, do not slaughter on one day.” – Vayikra 22:28

In one of the many commandments that teach us how to deal with animals, the Torah commands us not to kill a mother and its offspring on one day.

The Sefer HaChinuch explains that one of the rationales behind the mitzvah is “to train ourselves in the trait of mercy, and to distance ourselves from the trait of cruelty. Even though we are permitted to slaughter animals to eat, we must do so in a merciful manner. Killing both the mother and the child in the same day is merciless and will train us in brutality. Therefore, the Torah forbids it.”

This Sefer HaChinuch is difficult to understand. If the Torah is concerned about the good of the animal and its suffering, then the logical thing to do would be to forbid slaughtering it. If, on the other hand, the Torah is concerned about man and the damage such actions will have on him, then slaughtering another living creature to consume its flesh is about as barbaric an act as one could imagine. Surely the act of killing the animal should be forbidden altogether. Yet the Torah allows you to kill animals for any productive reason: whether for their hides, their meat, or any other use. Not only that, you may slaughter as many of them as you like. You may butcher a thousand cows in one day to make shoes to bring to the market – this won’t lead you to cruelty – but make sure that none of these animals are related. If two of those cows are mother and child, it is barbaric – don’t do it! This mitzvah seems very difficult to understand.

The answer to this question is based on understanding how our middos are shaped.

In many places the Sefer HaChinuch stresses that a person’s actions molds his very personality. If he acts with kindness and compassion, these traits become part of his inner nature. He will then feel other people’s pain, and it will become difficult for him to ignore their pleas for help. He will become a kind, compassionate person. The opposite is true as well. If a person acts with cruelty, this trait will become part of him. It will be more difficult for him to care about another person’s plight. He will have a difficult time being sensitive to the suffering of others. He will have adopted callousness into his inner essence.

According to this logic, it would follow that Dovid HaMelech should have been one of the cruelest men in history. He was known as a mighty, merciless warrior. He killed a mountain lion with his bare hands. He won the rights to marry Shaul’s daughter by killing and disfiguring 200 Pilishtim and bringing back their body parts to the king. When Avshalom waged war against him, Chushi advised, “Do not think of ambushing him [Dovid] at night, for everyone knows that he fights like a bear.” And Dovid said about himself, “I will seek out my enemy and have no mercy upon them.”

Yet we know that Dovid one of the kindest, most compassionate men who ever lived. Tehillim is not the expression of a cruel man. It is a manifestation of his pure devotion to Hashem, the outpourings of a heart that is pure, kindly and full of compassion. How is it possible that going to war didn’t ruin him?

The Formula for Perfecting One’s Middos

The Orchas Tzaddikim in his introduction explains that perfecting one’s middos is comparable to a chef preparing a meal. The right ingredients, in the right proportions, prepared in the right manner, will yield a delicious dish. However, all three have to be correct. If, for example, instead of sautéing the onions for 10 minutes, you leave them on the flame for an hour, or if instead of a teaspoon of salt you add a cup, the food will be inedible. It is the quality of the ingredients, in the proper amounts, prepared correctly, that determines the final product.

So too, he explains, when working on one’s character traits. It is the right amount of the right middah in the right time that is the key to perfection. Each middah has its place, time, and correct measure.

This seems to be the answer to Dovid HaMelech. When he went to war, it was in the manner that Hashem directed him. Hashem designed the human and understands the delicate balance within him: what affects him and how. Hashem commanded us to make use of certain behaviors, in certain measures, and at certain times. The same act when done for the wrong reason will be disastrous to the person. However, when it’s done for the right reasons, in the right measure, it will not harm him. Dovid remained pure and unsullied because he followed the Torah’s system of self-perfection, designed by the only One who truly understands the nature of the human.

This seems to be the answer to the Sefer HaChinuch as well. The Torah isn’t concerned about the pain of the animal; it is concerned about man. Man is the reason for creation. Everything in existence was formed to serve him. However, man was fashioned in a delicate balance. If he uses this world for its intended purpose, in the right way, in the right time, then he grows and perfects himself. However, if he uses the world incorrectly, in the wrong manner, or to the wrong extent, he is damaged by that process.

The act of killing a mother and child is akin to wiping out generations; it is pitiless and cruel. Hashem, Who understands the balance and nature of man, has told us that killing an animal for good use will not lead you to a hardened nature, provided you do so within the given boundaries. Remain within the system and you are safe. Leave these guidelines and you are in grave danger.

This concept is very applicable as it helps us appreciate the wisdom of the Torah’s system for growth. There is much that modern man understands about the inner workings of the human, and there is at least as much, if not more, that he doesn’t understand. Hashem has designed us and has given us the guidebook for perfection. It is our job to follow the Torah’s directives in the right balance, in the right time, in the right manner, thereby actualizing our potential as the reason for all of creation.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Torah’s System Of Self-Perfection”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Iran's nuclear enrichment facility at Fordow is in an underground bunker.
Congressmembers: No More Money for Talks With Iran
Latest Judaism Stories
Business-Halacha-logo

“If I notify people, nobody will buy the matzos!” exclaimed Mr. Mandel. “Once the halachic advisory panel ruled leniently, why can’t I sell the matzos regularly?”

The-Shmuz

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

Daf-Yomi-logo

Her Children, Her Whim
‘Kesubas Bnin Dichrin’
(Kesubos 52b)

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Yachatz is not mentioned in the Gemara. What is the foundation for yachatz?

First, the punishment for eating chametz on Pesach is karet, premature death at the Hand of God.

Why is it necessary to invite people to eat from the korban Pesach?

How was I going to get to Manhattan? No cabs were going, we didn’t have a car, and many people who did have cars had no gas.

Did you ever notice that immediately upon being granted our freedom from Egypt, the Jewish people accepted upon themselves the yoke of a new master – Hashem?

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Often people in important positions separate from everyday people & tasks-NOT the Kohen Gadol

You smuggled tefillin into the camp? How can they help? Every day men risked their lives to use them

Rambam: Eating blood’s forbidden because connected to idolatry;Ramban: We’re affected by what we eat

Rambam warns that a festival meal without taking care of the needy isn’t fulfilling simchat yom tov

Nothing beats some preparation to make it a memorable Seder!

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

So what type of praise is it that Aaron followed orders?

The-Shmuz

If my garment is clean, then I will be careful about maintaining its beauty. If it is soiled, I will not be as careful.

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

While it may appear that man is in charge, Hashem orchestrates every activity on the planet

Hashem placed this world at man’s disposal. In a real sense, man is the steward of Creation.

He is fully aware that who he will be for eternity is in his hands.

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-torahs-system-of-self-perfection/2013/04/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: