Kenneth Cohen

Surrendering to G-d

There is a Midrash at the end of Parshat Kedoshim, that teaches an important lesson regarding our approach to Judaism.

It is a quote from the great Tanna, Rav Elazar Ben Azariah. He said that a person should not say that he detests the flesh of the swine. But he should say that he would love to eat the flesh of the swine, but he cannot, because it is a decree of the King.

This teaches a very foundational principle in Judaism. We get much more credit for fulfilling those Mitzvot that we do not understand, we might disagree with, or make no sense to us, than those that we like or do make sense to us.

When we approach Judaism in this way, we are demonstrating הכנעה, or surrendering, to the laws made by G-d. We accept that as mere mortals, there are things way beyond our comprehension. We are also accepting that because all of this comes from Hashem, we are not able to question.

We are asked to have “blind faith” and have absolute trust in Him.

It is a reminder that the world is His, and everything comes from Him. The least we can do is to abide by the holy teachings of the Torah and the Rabbis. This is the way that we become close to Him, and feel His protection.

It is a two-way street. If we want closeness and Divine protection, we must do our part as well. We accept everything as the “decree of the King.” For this, we will receive great reward.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at