“What kind of mitzvos will we be reading about in this week’s parshah?” Mrs. Kirsh asked her class.

Mishpatim,” came the reply in chorus.

“That wasn’t too hard to figure out, was it?” said Mrs. Kirsh with a smile. “It’s right there in the name of the parshah. Now, let’s remind ourselves of the difference between the three types of mitzvos. You mentioned mishpatim, so we’ll start with them. What type of mitzvos are mishpatim?”

Rachel raised her hand. “Mishpatim are mitzvos which we can understand, like not stealing and not hurting others. Most people agree that everyone should obey them so we can live peacefully and happily with each other.”

“The next type is eidus,” said Batsheva. “These are mitzvos which we would probably not have thought of on our own. HaShem tells us to keep them as reminders of events that happened to the Jewish people, like Pesach or Sukkos.”

Mrs. Kirsh nodded. “And the third type?” she asked.

“They are the chukim,” Faige answered. “We were not taught the reasons for these mitzvos. We keep them only because HaShem commanded us to do so.”

“When you say ‘We were not taught the reasons for chukim,’ does that mean that there are no reasons?” Mrs. Kirsch asked.

“Perhaps,” suggested Shaindy. “We could say they are above reason. That would make it clearer.”

“Very good, Shaindy,” replied Mrs. Kirsh. “Chukim show a very deep connection between a Jew and HaShem. That connection is far above our understanding.

“Now I would like to ask you a ‘thinking question.’ Parshas Mishpatim comes right after Mattan Torah. At Mattan Torah, everything was overwhelming and supernatural. The mountain was afire, the people heard lightning and saw thunder. The entire world stood still and the voice of HaShem filled the air. These wonders are above our understanding; they are very different from our day-to-day lives.

“Now, which of the three types of mitzvos would you expect to follow Mattan Torah?”

Chukim,” Esther called out. “They would fit into the way the Jewish people felt at Mattan Torah: above reason, far from understanding, doing what HaShem wants just because He is so great.”

“Yet, girls,” continued Mrs. Kirsh. “We see that the mitzvos that follow Mattan Torah are mishpatim, mitzvos which we can understand. This shows us that we must take the overwhelming holiness of Mattan Torah and bring it down into our understanding. HaShem doesn’t want the Torah to stay above reason. He wants us to make the Torah part of ourselves.”

(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. III, Parshas Mishpatim)