“Dad,” the young boy asked his father.

“Yes, son?”

“Why is the sky blue?”

“I don’t know, son.”

“Why is the grass green?”

“I don’t know, son.”

“How do birds fly?”

“I don’t know, son.”

So it went on, the son asking questions and the father responding, “I don’t know, son.”

One day, the son said to his father, “Dad, I hope you don’t mind my asking you all these questions all the time.”

“Not at all, son,” replied the father. “How else are you supposed to learn anything?”

This week’s Torah reading, Chukat, contains a lesson about intelligence. Intelligence has its limits. Sometimes we have to take things on faith.

A chok means a law with no apparent logical meaning, yet one which we are commanded to carry out nonetheless. There are three types of commandment in Judaism, called eidot, chukim and mishpatim. Mishpatim are laws which we could figure out anyway by ourselves—not to murder, not to steal, etc. Eidot are laws which might not be immediately obvious, but which have a particular rationale—Shabbat, or the concept of tithes, and so forth. Chukim are laws which have no apparent rhyme or reason, yet we fulfill them anyway.

Sometimes we need a reminder that it is all well and good to be rational and logical. But from time to time, Judaism requires of us that we place all these calculations on the side. Sometimes we just have to enjoy the moment, without all the whys and wherefores. We don’t have to understand absolutely everything.

I was once at a friend’s house. I was about to drink a glass of fine whiskey, when one of the other guests piped up: “Wait a minute. I went to whiskey appreciation classes. You can’t just drink it like that; you have to do this, that, the other before you drink it, so you can really appreciate it properly.” He then proceeded to list all the prerequisites and their rational reasons, not letting me enjoy my l’chaim until he had finished! By the time he had indeed finished, the moment was lost and I no longer felt any pleasure or excitement from this fine whiskey! So much for “appreciation”!

To those blessed with the gift of intelligence, it is important to remember to use it wisely—that it is just that, a gift, and not to become smug or arrogant because of it. Also, there are limitations to intelligence. Sometimes we have to just take action and not let that analytical, logical human mind hold us back.