“Na’aseh v’nishmah – We will do, then we will understand.” These are the words we collectively responded when G-d asked if we would accept the Torah. We knew the truth of G-d’s existence, and so taking this leap of faith was the obvious choice. Since G-d is real, so are his laws – the details of which we knew would soon follow.
Here’s another way to look at it. Say, for example, someone isn’t well, and the doctor proscribes a medicine which will heal them. (For the sake of our mashal, assume this a trustworthy doctor who is 100% correct in the diagnosis 100% of the time.) It would make little sense for the patient to take this medicine only on condition that they understood its exact mechanism and the details of how it worked:
- When someone isn’t feeling well, their faculties are not 100%. If they take the medicine, they will reach their prime strength, and then it would be easier to understand.
- The healing process is best understood when experiencing it firsthand.
- Why push off getting better! The medicine will work regardless of our understanding of it.
Same is true with the mitzvot. A Jew is only 100% spiritually well when adhering to the ways of the Torah. Its beauty and purpose is best appreciated when experienced first-hand…why not get spiritually healthy now!
A few thousand years have passed since then, and by now the benefits of many of the commandments are easy to see. Shabbos observance = focus. Modesty = sanctity. Kosher = conscious eating. Prayer = spirituality. Torah learning = constant education. Pikuach Nefesh = sanctity of human life. Tzedakah = concern for others. And so on. These benefits are sometimes so obvious it can be tempting to keep these mitzvos because of logic while ignoring their G-dly origins.
When hesitating to take the next leap in Torah observance, thinking, “What’s the purpose” of adding another Torah class, being more careful with the blessings we make, or getting along better with our in-laws, we should remember na’aseh and then nishmah. If we take the plunge, we will surely come to appreciate it later.
It says matan Torah only happened once, but the secrets of the experience will only be revealed after the coming of Moshiach. Our world can use exactly that.
May we have an inspiring Shabbos and a joyous matan Torah,