מצוות שכליות ומצוות מקובלות

Rabbeinu Bechaye explains in his introduction to the Torah that there are two categories of Mitzvot. One is called, מצוות מושכלות, and the others are called מצוות מקובלות.

The מצוות מושכלות refer to those Mitzvot that could be figured out by using one’s שכל, or intellect. They make sense as being necessary for the benefit of society.

These would include the prohibition against murder, adultery, stealing, honoring parents, and giving false testimony.

The מצוות המקובלות are not really logical but are accepted as having been handed down from G-d to the Jewish people. מקובלות implies an accepted tradition.

The examples of these Mitzvot are a little surprising. Rabbeinu Bechaye includes Lulav, Shofar, Succa, קרבנות, Shmitta and Yovel, and Shatnez as מצוות מקובלות.

The difference in the observing of these two categories is that the first brings תועלת, benefit, to the גוף, the physical, as it is necessary for קיום העולם, the world’s continued existence.

The תועלת in observing the מצוות מקובלות is that it helps the גוף as well as the נשמה. There is unique spiritual elevation that comes from observing the direct commandments of Hashem.

I think we’re going to gain a great deal from Rabbeinu Bachye’s insights.