Rabbi Milevsky's Thought of the Week: Mishpatim - 5773
TA’AMEI HA MITZVOT
In the beginning of Pareshat Mishpatim Hashem told Moshe “These are the laws you are to set before them” Rashi directs our attention to the unusual terminology in the end of the verse. If Moshe is being told that he should teach the Jewish people why not just say that “These are the laws you are to teach them.” What is the idea of “setting before them”?
Rashi explains that with these words Hashem is informing Moshe that he should present to the Jewish people the law as a Shulchan Aruch--a set table. Commentators explain that Moshe was being told that merely teaching the Torah’s laws to the Jewish people once, twice, or even three times, will not be sufficient, unless he also clarifies the ta’amei hamitzvos--the logical basis for the commandments.
Food presentation can be compared to ta’amei hamitzvos. When food is presented in a beautiful way, it does not change the vitamins and minerals of the food; nevertheless the appearance makes it easier to digest. The same applies to the teaching of Torah. When presented in a way that is logical; it becomes appetizing and thus the Jewish person is attracted to the food that nourishes the soul.