On the 12th of Tammuz 5687 (1927), the day the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe was liberated from Communist prison, having been incarcerated for practicing Judaism under the most trying circumstances, he delivered a discourse1 in which he explained the three general categories of commandments: eidos , testimonies; mishpatim , laws; and chukim , decrees.

Eidos are those commandments that recall and/or testify to past events, such as Shabbos and Passover. Mishpatim are those commands that are also dictated by mortal understanding, such as honoring one’s parents and the prohibition against stealing. Chukim are commands that have no rational basis or explanation.

As part of his clarification that chukim are not based on logic but are non-rational decrees ordained by G‑d, the Rebbe brings the following proof: “As Rashi states (on the verse, ‘This [law of the Red Heifer] is the chukah of the Torah2) ‘For Satan and the nations challenge Jews… “this is a decree ordained by Me; you may not question it.’ ”

Yet, Rashi mentions (prior to the Torah portion of Chukas) that chukim are non-rational decrees ordained by G‑d. Why does the Rebbe specifically quote this Rashi ?

The Rebbe does so in order to supply proof for something he states later in the discourse — that the performance of all mitzvos , the rational as well as the superational, ought to be motivated by kabbolas ol, the acceptance of the heavenly yoke upon oneself; all mitzvos are performed solely because G‑d so decreed.

For the terminology, “This is the chukah of the Torah,” indicates that the inexplicable decree of the Red Heifer is a foundation for the entire Torah.3 Thus, the particulars of all mitzvos must be performed with the same kind of kabbolas ol with which one performs the commandment of the Red Heifer, for particulars derive from their general rule.

However, the question may be asked: The categories of testimonies, laws and decrees are divisions that the Torah itself sanctions; the Torah itself states that there are certain commandments that are non-rational, and others that are rational.

Thus, the Torah itself desires that “testimonies” be performed in a manner that testify to and recall past significant events; Torah itself desires that “laws” be performed because of their rational basis.4 How, then, can we say that all mitzvos are to be performed with the same kabbolas ol as chukim ?

In truth, however, rational commandments are performed because G‑d decreed that they be performed; performing logical commandments is also a result of kabbolas ol.

Just as this is so regarding the manner of performance, so too regarding the mitzvos themselves: the Divine will that is clothed in “testimonies” and “laws” is intrinsically beyond reason. G‑d, however, decreed that these mitzvos descend into the realm of logic as well.

But how can one expect to merge intellect with kabbolas ol and perform rational commandments rationally only because G‑d has so decreed, when reason and kabbolas ol are essentially antithetical?

The Torah addresses this dilemma by stating: “This is the chukah of the Torah.” The term chukah also derives from the Hebrew root that means “to hew out” — it permeates an individual through and through.5

Accepting the heavenly yoke upon oneself — chukah — so permeates an individual that every fiber of his being is infused with a sense of kabbolas ol , his intellect as well.

When an individual attains such a state, he will not experience the logic of rational commandments as an entity unto itself, but will recognize that the logic exists solely because G‑d has so decreed.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VIII, pp. 129-133