Is Judaism Too Intrusive?

Friday, 10 May, 2024 - 10:23 am

Did you know that there are 51 mitzvot in this week’s Parsha. They address areas of life such as eating, marriage, business, agriculture, social responsibilities, body care, family dynamics, interpersonal relationships, and much more. And that’s just 51 of the 613 total number of Mitzvot in the Torah.

There are different ways of viewing this phenomenon. It might seem like Halacha - Jewish law is a little too intrusive. It could appear that religion is being used to control the masses. Why does it matter what I eat? Why does it matter what I do in the privacy of my home? How can the method for tying my shoelaces be of interest to G-d? As long as I am a good person and don’t harm anyone else, why should G-d care about my personal choices?

Looking at it from a different perspective… G-d created us and the world around us and knows exactly what is needed to live an optimal life. Do we question the user’s manual of a car when we are told to use unleaded fuel only? Would someone say, “even though General Motors tells me that leaded fuel is harmful for my car… my car, my choice?” Do we call the doctor intrusive when we are advised of lifestyle choices to improve our quality of life? Would an astronaut question any of the strict requirements involved in space travel? Would we rip the label off the mattress despite the stern warning that doing so is illegal? (Ok, maybe not that one.)

Furthermore, as the name of our Parsha (Kedoshim) indicates, G-d is providing us with a “holiness doctrine.” If you want to live a holy life that is G-dlike, these are the instructions for accomplishing your goal. When we are talking about G-dly living, there is nothing that is superfluous or arbitrary. Every movement that I make, every word that I utter, every thought that I consider, has a role in this life of holiness. As such, rather than feeling intruded upon by all these Mitzvot and laws, I feel privileged that G-d cares so much about me that He shared with me what it means to live G-dly.  

So Halacha – Jewish law is a guidebook for living 24/7/365. There is Halachic input for every single aspect of life. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in life that is not governed by Torah’s illuminated, life-giving path of truth.  

If you are intrigued by this idea and would like to learn more about it, a four-part series on how Halacha informs difficult medical decisions is beginning this coming week. Decisions of Fate, our JLI spring course launches this Wednesday. Feel free to try out the first class on Wednesday night at 7 pm, no commitment required. If you would like to register for the course, go to We are also offering a Thursday lunchtime class downtown at the offices of Egenberg Trial Lawyers. This course offers both CME and CLE credits. Chabad of Metairie is offering this course on Tuesdays. For more information,

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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