In the contemporary traditional society of Mitzvot practicing Jews, the question of why are we doing Mitzvot is totally ignored. Not only is it ignored – it is frowned upon. Anyone that raises the question in public is looked upon suspiciously. Is that person questioning God’s will and authority? What right has a human being with limited intellect to question the Ratzon of Hashem? There is no reason necessary other than God ordering us and we just have to follow blindly. This blind faith is elevated to a virtue as if suppressing our uniqueness, one of the attributes that makes us human - our ability to think critically, is a great achievement. Rambam is undiplomatic and describes this tendency as “a sickness of the soul”.
“There are persons who find it difficult to give a reason for any of the commandments, and consider it right to assume that the commandments and prohibitions have no rational basis whatever. They are led to adopt this theory by a certain sickness in their soul, the existence of which they perceive, but which they are unable to discuss or to describe. For they imagine that these precepts, if they were useful in any respect, and were commanded because of their usefulness, would seem to originate in the thought and reason of some intelligent being. But as things which are not objects of reason and serve no purpose, they would undoubtedly be attributed to God, because no thought of man could have produced them.” (MN3:31)
Rambam identifies the fear of addressing why we keep Mitzvot as a complete misunderstanding of what makes Torah divine. It is not irrationality that proves its divine provenance but just the opposite, its rationality.
Human beings are very complex by nature and necessity. For them to perform their part for the good of the whole of existence, they have certain traits, freedom of choice, sentience, abstract thought and so on. These traits inherently make a human into an individual. No two people are the same. At the same time, this tendency towards individuality has drawbacks. A single human, all alone cannot procreate nor even survive. The human species would disappear in a short time without it forming a society where the many individuals work together towards survival. It is the combined abilities of all these individuals that guarantee the survival of the species. As there is a built in mechanism for survival in each species, there are individuals within a society that have the ability to organize and lead that society. That is how each society developed laws and social rules that allowed these individuals to come together and live in peace with each other. Such laws have one thing in mind - the survival of the human species. They focus on interpersonal relationships and even when theological issues are addressed, they are utilitarian in the sense of uniting and putting limits on the members of the society so that it can flourish. It is purely self-serving, either for the society or the survival of the species.
Judaism as seen by Rambam, has a much more advanced and sophisticated outlook. It sees man as an important component of the whole of existence with a role to play in the survival of that whole. The survival of the human species is necessary because humans are needed for the survival of the whole of existence. With this in mind, it addresses the day-to-day societal issues with a view of developing individuals who can play a role in the survival of the whole. It wants to develop individuals that can advance the knowledge of humanity, a
“You will find that the sole object of certain laws, in accordance with the intention of their author, who well considered their effect, is to establish the good order of the state and its affairs, to free it from all mischief and wrong. These laws do not deal with philosophic problems, contain no teaching for the perfecting of our logical faculties, and are not concerned about the existence of sound or unsound opinions. Their sole object is to arrange, under all circumstances, the relations of men to each other, and to secure their well-being, in accordance with the view of the author of these laws. These laws are political, and their author belongs, as has been stated above, to the third class, viz., to those who only distinguish themselves by the perfection of their imaginative faculties. You will also find laws which, in all their rules, aim, as the law just mentioned, at the improvement of the material interests of the people but besides, tend to improve the state of the faith of man. They create first correct notions of God, and of angels, and lead then the people, by instruction and education, to an accurate knowledge of the Universe: this education comes from God; these laws are divine.”
Interestingly the Torah does not teach those scientific insights but rather directs us to work towards discovering them.
“With regard to all the other correct opinions concerning the whole of being – opinions that constitute the numerous kinds of all the theoretical sciences through which the opinions forming the ultimate end are validated - Scripture does not make a call to direct attention towards them in detail… It does it in summary fashion with the commandment, "to love the Lord" (Deut. xi. 13). It may be inferred from the words, "And thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (ibid. vi. 5), what stress is laid on this commandment to love God. We have already shown in the Mishne-torah (Yes. ha-torah ii. 2) that this love is only possible when we comprehend the real nature of things, and understand the divine wisdom displayed therein.”
Knowing the world we live in is a component of the Mitzvah to love God. We can only love someone we know. We have to know God’s world and love Him through that knowledge which will compel us to act in concert with that love, emulating Him.