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While reading the Parsha this past week, I was struck but what I thought was an interesting wording in the Passuk:

ט יַיִן וְשֵׁכָר אַל-תֵּשְׁתְּ אַתָּה וּבָנֶיךָ אִתָּךְ, בְּבֹאֲכֶם אֶל-אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד--וְלֹא תָמֻתוּ: חֻקַּת עוֹלָם, לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם.

9 'Drink no wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tent of meeting, that ye die not; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations.

When describing the type of commandment this is, the Torah calls it "חֻקַּת". I've always been under the impression that the classification of "Chok" is used for commandments that are beyond human comprehension. The prohibition against doing the service intoxicated doesn't seem like it would fall under that category.

The above assumption is based on what is the quintessential Chok: The Parah Adumah. In Bamidbar 19:2, the Torah describes the Parah Adumah with the same phrase: "זֹאת חֻקַּת הַתּוֹרָה", and Rashi there writes:

כתב בה חקה, גזירה היא מלפני ואין לך רשות להרהר אחריה

Therefore, the Torah uses the term “statute.” I have decreed it; You have no right to challenge it

Rashi clearly says the term "Chok" (at least by Parah Adumah) is a classification of Mitzvos beyond human comprehension. However, I don't know offhand of any other examples (besides this question) where the term "Chok" is used, and whether it refers to a Mitzvah beyond human comprehension or not.

Does anyone know if any of the commentators comment on this?

As an aside, I looked into the Sefer Hachinuch to see if maybe it gave a reason, and it said that the reason for this prohibition is "Pashut", which adds to the question of why the wording of חֻקַּת is used (unless I'm simply misunderstanding the word חֻקַּת).

  • Have you looked at other places the word Chukkat is used in the Torah? Does it match your preconception? What examples show that? Have you considered that your expected connotation might only be true in usage of rabbinic hebrew? – Double AA Apr 5 '16 at 0:18
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    Consider the fact that pagan rituals often required that the priests drink and lose control of themselves in order to "serve" their idols. Another possibility is that this says absolutely no drink and not just refrain from getting drunk. – sabbahillel Apr 5 '16 at 1:52
  • May be that chok reffers to a periodic, perhaps quotidian habit or law (I am ont 100% sure) – kouty Apr 5 '16 at 20:41
  • May be that chok reffers to a periodic, repetitive, perhaps quotidian habit or law (I am ont 100% sure) חוקי הנשים in Esther, שָׁוְא וּדְבַר-כָּזָב, הַרְחֵק מִמֶּנִּי-- רֵאשׁ וָעֹשֶׁר, אַל-תִּתֶּן-לִי; הַטְרִיפֵנִי, לֶחֶם חֻקִּי mishley 30, 8. see shorashim radak חקק on the verse YOV 23, 4, quotidian – kouty Apr 5 '16 at 20:48
  • @DoubleAA Added example of Parah Adumah as per your comment. – Salmononius2 Apr 6 '16 at 1:20

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