Question: I have a friend who wants to know why we have to keep the Mitzvos in their minute details. Can you please give me a detailed reply that I can share with her. Also, can you refer me to any articles on your website that will elaborate on this question?
Answer: Here’s how you might frame your reply.
First of all, you really have to look at each Mitzva separately, because each of the many details that the Torah associates with a Mitzva is an element that’s critical to its understanding, and therefore, to the impact it can have on us. If Mitzvos were just vague and broad generalizations (give charity, don’t kill, etc), then they would have very little impact on our way of thinking and our moral sensitivity.
It’s the details that have the power capture our attention and force us to, in fact, consider why we’re doing it just this way.
For an illustration of how this might work, you might like to see my essay on Mezuza here: http://www.marbitz.com/essay/mezuza.html
There might be no more comprehensive and practical description of the ultimate purpose of all the details of our Mitzvos than in the work of Rabbi S.R. Hirsch, and his Nineteen Letters is an excellent starting point – especially letters ten through fourteen.
With my best regards,
Rabbi Boruch Clinton