“And now Yisrael!” Moshe announced. “Listen to the Mitzvos which I am about to teach and review… Listen and perform them so that you may live and inherit the land which HaShem the G-d of your fathers, is giving to you.”
Moshe began with laying down some important “Mitzvah Rules.” “The Mitzvos I am about to teach are perfect. Follow them exactly the way HaShem wants. Do not change them whatsoever. Do not add to or subtract from any Mitzvah. There are 4 sections inside Tefillin – not 5 and not 3. Take 4 species on Sukkos – Lulav, Esrog, Hadas and Aravah – not 5 and not 3. Keep every Mitzvah exactly the way HaShem has instructed us to.”
Now, you may be thinking (and should be thinking), “Subtracting from Mitzvos is not a good idea, but what’s wrong with ‘adding’ to a Mitzvah?”
To answer this, it’s time for a Shazak Scenario:
Ozzie Ouchkowitz was in a lot of pain.
“OUCH!” he cried out. “My stomach! It’s hurting sooooo much!”
Well, what did Ozzie expect? After that huge barbecue and stuffing himself with loads of hamburgers, hotdogs, French fries, onion rings? And to make matters even worse, he topped it off with a giant Pareve chocolate fudge sundae, loaded with sprinkles, chunks of brownies, nuts, whipped topping and a bunch of other high calorie junk.
Quickly, Ozzie raced to his medicine cabinet and found some Pepto-Bisalleh for some stomach pain relief.
“Boruch HaShem!” Ozzie cried out. “The bottle is full. I need relief and I need it fast!”
So instead of drinking 4 ounces, Ozzie gulped down all 24 ounces!
Guess what happened? As you probably have already predicted…
“OUCH! My stomach! What pain! It’s hurting sooooo much. OY VEY! It’s even worse than before!”
Get the idea? Our Rabbis of the Talmud call the Torah a medicine. Follow the prescription and take the medicine exactly as it says on the label – do not add and do not subtract!
Later in our Parsha, we find the following words:
“V’Zos HaTorah Asher Som Moshe” – “And this is the Torah that Moshe placed before the people of Israel.”
Now for a Hebrew word-play:
Som with the letter Sin שם – means placed, but it also sounds like סם – with a Samach, סם – meaning medicine. Get it?
Imagine the best artist in the universe had just finished his masterpiece… a dazzling picture of a waterfall in the springtime. It was the most beautiful painting, perfect in every way. Now, would it make sense for another artist to add something to it? Of course not. It would ruin it!
In the words of Dovid HaMelech, a.k.a. King David, Toras HaShem Temimah – “The Torah of HaShem is perfect.” (Tehillim 19:8). Perfection, by definition, cannot get better… Don’t add to it and don’t subtract from it. If you do, it’s a BIG MISTAKE… it’s no longer perfect!