It Depends Who You Are -Rabbi Ephy Greene (Beshalach)
The Torah describes that at Marah, the place of bitter waters, Hashem commanded the nation in some of the mitzvos, even before reaching Har Sinai. שם שם לו חק ומשפט – “There, He gave them laws and ordinances”. What mitzvos does this refer to?
Rashi brings a list that includes Kibbud Av V’Em. Why is this referred to as Chok U’Mishpat? Also, these are 2 types of laws. Chukim are laws beyond our understanding, Mishpatim are logical, intuitive laws. Which one is it? (Rabbi Berger students will know to answer….both!)
The Gemara in Eiruvin 13 mentions a Machlokes between Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai, whether it was better for man to be born, or would have been better for a man to not be born. The rabbis voted and it was decided it would be better for a man not to be born.
Rav Yonasan Eybeshitz explains that this is true only for an average person. However, a tzaddik, someone who properly fulfills their purpose in this world, it is better that he was born. If so, he explains, we can understand the Pasuk referring to Kibbud Av V’Em as both a Chok, U’mishpat.
For most people, it would have been better they weren’t born since they don’t fulfill their ideal spiritual level. If so, why should they be grateful to their parents for bringing them into this world? For such people, Kibbud Av V’Em is a Chok. For Tzaddikim, who properly fulfill their purpose in life, their birth is a merit, and therefore it is logical for them to express their gratitude to their parents through Kibbud Av V’Em. Either way, we must honor our parents, but why we do so really depends who you are!
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