If you've ever parented a toddler you'll agree that nothing is as calculated to raise the bristles on the back of your neck as that infuriatingly nasal whine: But whyyyy?

You explain, clarify and justify for ages and the little tyke still isn't having any of it. Forget empathy, sharing and all the caring skills you practiced while pregnant; how quickly do you degenerate into a pathetic mimic of your own folks as you trot out the hideous line you swore you'd never stoop to: Because I said so, that's why!

You've lost it! Goodbye "Great Communicator"; let's welcome "King of the Household, Rigid Ruler of the Little People."

G‑d, our wise and caring parent, established the world with a set of guiding principles—the mitzvot. Much of the time He graces us with explanations and we appreciate the wisdom of fulfilling His will. Daily living demands regulation, and every society, in every age, has coped by enacting laws to order and direct society.

But occasional mitzvot, known as chukim, are of the "just-do-it!" variety. For whatever reason, G‑d wishes us to exercise self-abnegation and do His bidding for no other purpose than satisfying G‑d's desires.

The same child who ignored your most persuasive entreaties has a far harder time refusing the heartless logic implicit in "Do it because I'm your parent!" Similarly, we are expected to knuckle down and obey G‑d's commands even without comprehension, secure in the knowledge that "Papa knows best."

Okay, you might guarantee obedience, but is there any hope of the little tyke growing into a well-adjusted specimen of humanity if his natural curiosity and playful urges are squelched in such a calculated manner? By my understanding, yes. Children need to be taught the concept of limits. Anyone can browbeat a child into momentarily giving in, but the challenge is to inculcate into one's child the acceptance of parental authority such that they accept your instructions willingly. Eventually an intelligent kid might even begin to trust you to the extent that he does whatever you ask of him just to make you happy. It's not easy for anyone, let alone a child, to cede control, but with goodwill, patience and trust on both sides, progress can be made.

From a religious perspective, the challenge is slightly subtler. At first glance it seems easier to accept G‑dly authority if you understand His purpose, rather than blindly following some concealed master plan. To commit to obeying G‑d's commandments, even without understanding, is an equivalent challenge to training a child to conform to family rules willingly.

In time, after a lifetime of mutual devotion between Jew and Creator, we might be able to achieve such a degree of faith that we undertake even those rational, self-understood parts of Judaism with the sense of sacrifice and surrender to G‑d as when conforming to the chukim; for no other reason than just to make G‑d happy.