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    Paths well trodden – B’chukkotai

    B’chukkotai begins with the phrase, “If you walk in My statutes”. Because of the connection between walking and the Divine statutes, the word for “law” is halachah – literally, “walking”.

    Anyone who goes hiking knows that there is a choice between two paths – trodden paths and untrodden paths. If a path looks as though it has been well used, we feel more secure. We take it for granted that the people who have been there before us have found that path to be effective.

    On the other hand, routes that we work out and open up ourselves might prove a success… but there is always a risk that they will lead us through prickles and brambles and get nowhere in the end. That is not necessarily an argument against venturing ahead and going where others have not been. It is rather a question of what degree of risk we are prepared to take.

    As far as God’s paths are concerned, it is obvious that we are by no means the first generation of inhabitants of the Creation. Others have tried the two paths and have more or less concluded that the trodden paths are the best. That constitutes the best argument for halachah, the fact that it works.

    Not everybody wants to follow the halachic paths, but there is no guarantee that the alternatives will in the end prove better.

    Think of the story of Abraham and Isaac. Both needed water in the desert. Abraham was the pioneer who worked out where to dig for the water; Isaac re-dug his father’s wells because he knew Abraham had found water.

    Isaac operated on the principle that has been called “the mechanics of satisfaction” – not quite “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” but “if it works, be satisfied!”

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