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VaEtchanan. Spirit of the Law

People have been known to criticize Judaism for being too legal, too “letter of the law” and not enough ethics, values and “spirit of the law”.

In this regard, Nachmanides (Ramban) makes a monumental remark in this week’s Parsha. He is commenting on the verse:

“Be sure to keep the commandments, decrees, and laws that the Lord your God has enjoined upon you. Do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord” (Deut 6:17-18)

This verse begs the question. Once one is doing the “commandments, decrees, and laws” of God, why add that one should “do what is right and good”? What additional observance could be indicated here? Nachmanides answers

it is impossible for the Torah to list every detail of human conduct

From the beginning God said to keep God's commandments, decrees, and laws as God has commanded them. And now, it says: even regarding what God did not command, pay attention to do what is good and right in God's eyes, because God loves goodness and righteousness. … it is impossible for the Torah to list every detail of human conduct; interaction with neighbors and friends, the totality of business dealings, and societal and national laws. The Torah having legislated specific laws, such as: "Do not gossip" (Lev. 19:16); "Do not take vengeance or bear a grudge" (Lev. 19:18); "Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" (Lev. 19:16); "Do not insult the deaf" ( Lev. 19:14); "Rise before the aged" (Lev. 19:32), etc, now makes a general statement which applies to the entire gamut of human behaviour, the Torah repeats this idea that one should do what is “right and good” … acting beyond the strict demands of the law.”