In this week’s Torah portion, we see the admonition not to add or take away from the Torah.
The Maggid of Dubno gave a wonderful story for us to learn what would be wrong with the approach of adding things to Torah.
A poor person went to his next door rich neighbor and borrowed a Kiddush cup. The rich man gave it to him and after Shabbos the poor man returned the Kiddush cup along with a smaller silver cup. Asked the rich man, “What’s with the smaller cup.” Said the poor man, “the Kiddush cup had a baby over Shabbos – this is the baby.”
The rich man wasn’t going to argue the point and kept the small cup. The next Shabbos the poor man borrowed the rich man’s silver candle holders. After Shabbos, the rich man waited to see what would be returned…but nothing was returned. Sunday came and went and nothing. Monday, the rich man went to the poor man to ask for his silver back. Said the poor man, “sorry, it was sad, but your candlesticks died.”
“Died!” screamed the rich man, “they aren’t alive- – they can’t die.”
The poor man looked at him sadly and said, “if silver cups can have babies, then silver candle holders can die.”
Said the Dubno Maggid, when you begin to add to the Torah, you eventually think you can detract from it. But it is also more serious than that – the minute you begin tinkering, either through adding or taking away Halacha, what you really are saying is that you think you know better than G-d. Therefore, no one is allowed to add to or take away any Halacha.