Kol Rabi Sedra ReEih – Loyalty
Some Torah laws appear inconsistent. Wearing clothing which combines wool and linen is prohibited, and yet the Cohanim wear such clothing whilst serving in the Mikdash. Cooking cow, sheep or goat meat with milk is prohibited and yet we may [by Torah law] cook deer meat with milk. Eating kidney fats of cows, sheep or goats is prohibited and yet we may eat those of a deer. We are not permitted to use fire during Shabbos yet we process sacrifices on that Holy Day.
Chazal ask – Does HKBH care if we eat meat that was slaughtered as we do from the throat or just chop from the back of the neck?
Chazal answer – Observing these instructions does nothing for HKBH [He is after all perfect without any of our good deeds and He is in no way detracted by any of our misdeeds] rather these instructions provide us with an opportunity to become perfected.
Chazal ask, “Is the aroma of burning feathers truly a ‘sweet aroma’ for HKBH? Is this not a stench that makes many people wretch? Rather the ‘sweet aroma’ is that His instructions are abided even when it runs contrary to our own sensibilities.”
All HKBH’s Laws are an opportunity for us to display our loyalty. Sometimes the greatest loyalty is loyally performing what is counter-intuitive. If it makes sense we may well be motivated for alternative considerations.
Chazal fought against the Karites – who argued their fealty to Torah by insisting on a much closer dedication to the text of the Torah. Our tradition however fought against this. HKBH has provided us with a responsibility to interpret the Torah and derive guidelines that might well be counter-intuitive.
The Karites similarly fought against the notion of Ben PeKuAh, in their eyes it was Rabbinical over-reach, perhaps an even greater fantasy than their stretching of the verse to mean “not to ignite a fire during Shabbos” although the wording actually reads, “no fire should burn during Shabbos”
And in this great battle, Rav Hai Gaon, a champion for our traditions who brilliantly fought the Karites, developed a winning strategy to smash the Karites: he brought Ben PeKuAh beasts to every public celebration and processed them as Ben PeKuAh, making a BBQ to feed the assembled crowds.