A computer does not perform any functions that a person could not accomplish by himself. However, it can calculate in a matter of seconds what would ordinarily require weeks, months or even years for a person to do.

Because the process of arriving at these calculations manually is so complicated, a person could easily make a mistake and reach an incorrect conclusion. Therefore, the advantage of using a computer is that one will always reach the correct conclusion if the data has been entered properly.

This suggests an interesting parallel in bringing our fellow Jew closer to Torah. When approaching another person to encourage him to do a particular mitzvah (such as putting on tefillin or observing Shabbos), we inform him that he need not wait until he fully understands these commandments, but can perform them in the manner of “Na’aseh v’nishma,”1 first we will do and then we will understand. It is quite possible that the other may argue: “Since G‑d created man with a brain, how can it be demanded of someone that he perform mitzvos without completely understanding them?”

Furthermore, if the Torah is a “Torah of truth,” what do we have to fear from investigation? Certainly the person will conclude that the Torah and its precepts are valid and a commitment to Torah is sure to result. Why shouldn’t a person first try to fathom the Torah through intellect?

However, this reasoning would be equivalent to someone choosing not to use a computer, but instead taking a piece of paper and a pencil and attempting to complete a complex calculation. If he values his time, he will acknowledge that others more competent than he have already made these computations and will instead rely on the computer to do the work quickly and efficiently.

Of course one should use his G‑d-given faculties to understand. However, why waste our time repeating someone else’s work when we can use their calculations as a starting point and utilize our own abilities more fully to reveal deeper and more intricate concepts?

Just as a person can make use of a computer because of the skills and expertise of the individuals who developed its hardware and software, so too with the performance of Torah and mitzvos. Over the course of tens of generations, many Jewish luminaries have expounded on the various facets of the Torah and mitzvos. It is certain that the people engaged in this process did their work without bias, since they revered it as being the epitome of Holiness and they devoted their entire lives to this quest.

If one wants to confirm the calculations for himself \endash by all means. However we need not wait until we fully understand every aspect of the Torah with our own intellect. We can rely for now on the wisdom of the sages who have already analyzed and interpreted it, and can therefore begin immediately with the action that precedes the detailed understanding.

There are those who claim that at the time the Torah was given, phenomena that would be discovered in later generations were not yet known, so the dictates of the Torah are not relevant in reference to these matters. To answer this, we can take another lesson from the computer.

A person may use a computer to calculate things undreamed of by the inventors. The conclusions derived are nonetheless valid.

The same is true of the Torah and mitzvos. Although the sages of previous generations did not know all the developments that would emerge over the course of time, since the Torah encompasses all aspects of the world’s existence, we can legitimately apply its teachings to situations that occur in modern times.

Sichos Kodesh of the Rebbe, Shabbos Parshas Shlach, 5735