"This is the decree of the Torah…”-- Numbers 19:2.

The name of the portion this week, “Chukat,” means a suprarational decree – a law without logical explanation. The particular decree of which the reading speaks is the procedure for ritual purification from contact with a dead body. The process involves the burning of a red-haired cow, a piece of cedar wood, a bundle of hyssop and a scarlet thread, mixing these ashes in water and sprinkling them upon the person or object that has become defiled.

While there are many commandments that appeal directly to our sense of logic, and still others that after having been commanded make sense to us, there are other laws that entirely defy human understanding. Such a law is the curious procedure for purification from contact with a corpse.

It has been said that the Twelve Steps work but that no one is really sure how or why they do. It can be unsettling to give oneself over to a process that you cannot understand. Pride doesn’t seem to want to let us. But we alcoholics have been forced to accept that the solution for our alcoholism is not something we need to understand.

Uncomfortable with the spiritual nature of the program, some alcoholics have sought to devise other systems for curing alcoholism that appeal more to reason. They would rather approach the problem from a rational perspective. If people can find sobriety that way, more power to them. If not, however, one would think it less important that the treatment make sense than the fact that it works.

There is yet another lesson to be learned from the above-mentioned law. One may understand the opening verse of this portion -– “This is the decree of the Torah” –- to not only mean that this particular commandment is a suprarational decree, but that really the entire Torah transcends logic and that while some commandments may make more sense to us than others, all of G‑d’s laws are ultimately beyond the pale of mortal comprehension.

This, too, is a concept with which we in recovery may already be intuitively aware. Much of our program does strike us as sound thinking. But that is not why we stick to it. The foundation of our recovery is to be of service to G‑d and to allow Him to make full use of us. We no longer ask to know why G‑d wants something, but rather, to know what it is that He wants so that -– whatever it may be –- we may do it. Such kind of living may not always satisfy the intellect, but it is a G‑dly way of living, and G‑d, we think, needs not justify Himself to our sensibilities. It is we who must conform to His will and understanding, not the other way around.