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May 1, 2017 / conservadox

Dvar Torah-Acharei Mot

“Mine ordinances shall ye do, and My statutes shall ye keep, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God.”  (Lev. 18:4)

What’s the difference between an “ordinance” and a “statute”? Miller interprets this passage as a separation between rational laws (e.g. no stealing) and not-so-rational laws (e.g. don’t eat insects)- which in turn leads to a common question I get from secularists: why observe religious law instead of just being a good person?

Miller (citing Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, an early Hasidic rabbi) argues that rational laws and suprarational ones are interrelated: people who observe the suprarational laws refine themselves and are more likely to be scrupulous in observing rational laws.

But is this rule?  Are religious Jews more ethical than other people?  yes and no.  Obviously there are plenty of religious Jews who do odious things.  On the other hand, it seems reasonable to suspect that religious Jews are on balance less likely to (for example) be criminals than the rest of the population.  So maybe.

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