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Posted on July 14, 2016 (5776) By Rabbi Label Lam | Series: | Level:

HASHEM spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: “This is the (CHOK) statute of the Torah which HASHEM commanded, saying, ‘Speak to the Children of Israel and have them take for you a perfectly red unblemished cow, upon which no yoke was laid.’ (Bamidbar 19:1-2)

This is the (CHOK) statute of the Torah: Because Satan and the nations of the world taunt Israel, saying, “What is this commandment, and what purpose does it have?” Therefore, the Torah uses the term (CHOK) “statute.” I have decreed it. You have no permission to challenge it. — Rashi

The premise of a CHOK- a statute that cannot be grasped by the human mind can admittedly be challenging and even troubling to the questing mind. To the uninitiated it may seem like a celebration of blind faith or blatant ignorance.

The Sefas Emes explains a CHOK in the following way: “There are Mitzvos that are called CHUKIM that we cannot comprehend and they correspond to the 613 limbs and sinews. This is the statute of the Torah: Because Satan and the nations of the world taunt Israel, saying, “ What is this commandment, and what purpose does it have?” Therefore, the Torah uses the term “statute.” I have decreed it; You have no right to challenge it. —Just as in the formation of man there are many organs that we do not know their precise function or reason for being. However for a hidden or unknown reason they are absolutely necessary. So it is with the Mitzvos!”

Natalie Wolchover writes, “The poor old human appendix gets lumped in with the likes of wisdom teeth, ear-wiggling muscles and our other “useless” holdovers… The worm-shaped organ’s inconsequentiality seems proven by the fact that it can be removed with no obvious drawbacks. But biologists have recently begun to question the long-held assumption of appendix pointlessness. Some suggest it may help train the immune system during fetal development. Other research indicates the organ serves as a “safe house” for the bacteria that aid in digestion, holding a secret stash of microbes that repopulate the rest of the digestive tract after gut-evacuating bouts of diarrhea. The word “appendix” means afterthought. But maybe, just maybe, it isn’t one.

A couple of handfuls of your body aren’t actually your body. For every one of your cells, 10 microbes live inside you, and these hangers-on collectively compose a few pounds (1 to 3 percent) of your total weight. Some of this in-house fauna cleans our skin while some helps us digest food, but the bulk of these microbes contribute to our bodily functions in ways unknown. Healthy people even harbor low levels of harmful viruses, which appear to do something besides sicken us. “We’re just learning that the consequence of antibiotics is that when you get rid of the good bacteria in our guts, we can develop autoimmune diseases [such as Type 1 diabetes]. We’re not as advanced in our understanding of viruses. What do viruses do for us?” Vincent Racaniello, professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University, told Life’s Little Mysteries. Clearly, we’ve signed up for a whole bunch of symbiotic relationships, and have no idea what we’re getting out of the deal.

How do the 100 trillion neural connections in our brains work together to create the feeling of being alive? Many great thinkers consider consciousness to be the biggest mystery not just of the human body, but the biggest one, period. As the neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran put it, “Any single brain, including yours, is made up of atoms that were forged in the hearts of countless far-flung stars… These particles drifted … and light-years later… gravity and chance brought them together here, now. These atoms now form a conglomerate — your brain — that can not only ponder the very stars that gave it birth but can also think about its own ability to think and wonder about its own ability to wonder. With the arrival of humans, it has been said, the universe has suddenly become conscious of itself. This, truly, is the greatest mystery of all.””

Now we all know that “gravity and chance” alone lack that creativity. Perhaps, even greater than the capacity for self-consciousness may just be- man’s ability to comprehend and admit that a thing is incomprehensible.