One True Religion
The eighth of Maimonides' 13 Principles of Judaism is that the entire Torah is God's word. As God knows all, His will that Torah remains unchanged throughout every generation teaches that the Torah's ideas are eternally true; they are applicable to all generations.
History does not recount God giving a religion to mankind, other than Judaism. There was never a mass revelation other than upon Mt. Sinai 3324 years ago in front of the entire Jewish nation totaling 2.5 million people. While many other religions claim God spoke to them, such claims are without proof, explaining why other religions demand "belief" as a core tenet. They recognize the absence of any proof for their words. The Aztec account actually refers to itself as a "legend" and not a historical event. Additionally, it fails to provide the story's characters, their lineages or travels, while it also accepts talking animals as reality. Christianity has numerous versions of the same supposed events surrounding Jesus, thereby confessing their ignorance and exposing the fallacy of those stories and miraculous claims. And those claims did not appear until generations after the time of Jesus' supposed miracles. Such silence indicates there were in fact no miracles, for no one could silence publicly witnessed miracles, had they occurred. Islam attempts to gain credibility by adopting Judaism and Christianity, following the same method of Christianity in its adoption of the Five Books. The Koran claims credit for giving the Book to Moses and recounts many Torah stories within the Koran. Both major religions affirm Torah's truth. Both attempt to attain status as God's religion by copying the Torah. Other religions rely on the claims of individuals. But not one religion possesses proof.
In contrast, Judaism traces individuals by name, family name, the ages of those people when they had children, the child's name, the dates of their deaths, and all of their travels. The eye-witness transmission of a single account of Jewish history proves its truth. Moses would not have been successful transmitting a fabricated story of Revelation at Sinai telling people "you were there." No one would have accepted he was somewhere he was not. No individual would agree with Moses that he witnessed miracles together with over 2 million others, when he and all others knew they didn't. The Jewish people would not have abandoned their true history, had Moses been lying about Sinai and the rest of the Torah. However, the fact that the Jewish people, and even the other major religions accept the entire history of the Jews – the Torah – is testimony to the absolute truth of the entire Torah, the Five Books of Moses. Christianity incorporated the complete Five Books into their religion.
All historical accounts are verified in the exact same manner: when masses testify unanimously to clear events, we know the event could not have been fabricated. Mass fabrication cannot occur. It is impossible that millions will share a common motive to lie, and abandon their true history. All other religions lack historical proof; not one claims masses witnessed an event, since such a claim would not have been accepted by the world when reality denies such claims. Therefore, all other religions launched themselves based on belief: you either accept or you don't. It is not a matter subject to "proof". A strategically safe position.
Last week's Parsha Vaeyra recounts Moses' numerous admonishments to Pharaoh and that Egyptian society steeped in a man made religion. Moses showed respect to Pharaoh for his status. But respect must not to be confused with recognition, tolerance or agreement with any element of that idolatrous culture. Moses was quite clear, as was God and the messages contained in the Ten Plagues. The Egyptian culture was built on lies; they and their gods were false and defenseless against God's plagues. There is but One Ruler of the universe. Egypt and Moses could not both be correct. Pharaoh admitted this by summoning Moses – not his astrologers – to end each painful plague. Pharaoh was stubborn, but his dependence upon Moses unveiled his true beliefs. In the end, Moses was shown as representing the true Creator, the world's Governor; while Egypt was exposed as a group of charlatans; lying astrologers with nothing more than sleight-of-hand tactics, incapable of altering natural law.
It is sensible that God gave one religion. A heart ailment of any man or woman would not be treated differently based on the color of one's skin, accent, or culture. This is because there is one human design. All people receive the identical treatment, since the heart is identical in all men and women. As our bodies are identical, so are our souls and psyches. Happiness and fulfillment are achieved by all men and women following the same path: removal of conflict, attainment of basic physical and social needs, success, health, recreation, laughter, music, self esteem, the sense of belonging, accomplishment, peace, and intellectual pursuits. Only a religion that recognizes the human design and caters to it, can offer man real happiness. Religions that abhor sex or force man to renounce it, cause man to live in pain. Religions that demand man to believe claims without proof will frustrate man's desire to follow what's reasonable. Such religions are dissatisfying.
As there is only one mankind, only one religion makes sense. Judaism not only offers proof of God's Revelation, it also makes sense. Not one human desire is rejected; in fact we are to satisfy all of our needs. We are not to live as unwed priests or nuns, or as self-deprived monks. We are asked to comply with our natures and follow reason. We see this most clearly in the volumes of Talmud where the Rabbis elucidate the Torah's commands with such depth, offering us a deep appreciation of the reasoning contained. All of Torah complies with our human design. The words of our great Kings Solomon and David reveal a religion of tremendous insight that rings true and offers us our greatest moments as we uncover new concepts and marvels. Like Abraham and David, we are to study the natural world and delight in its wonders. Our God is the God of the universe. In Judaism, science and religion are complimentary, unlike other religions. Maimonides wrote, "Had Aristotle proved the eternity of the universe, we would be forced to reinterpret Genesis."
We follow reason, evidence and honesty. But we are to not only follow. God asked that we also lead. He desires all of His creations to attain happiness:
"Observe therefore and do them [the commands], for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the people that, when they hear all these statutes, shall say, surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people!" (Deut. 4:6)
God desires all mankind to be impressed with the one religion He gave the Jews. When we accurately represent the Torah, this quote is what God says the other nations will say. He wants us to lead, and not hide the truth. God is telling us the other nations will be as impressed with Judaism as we are, and God desires this. God commands us not to alter the Torah at all. How then does it make sense that new religions should arise? It is clear, and it is proven: God gave one religion, for all mankind, for all time.
Just as Moses taught, that he and Egypt could not both be correct, we too must sustain this eternal Torah lesson that God gave only one religion and that all others must be false. We are not to silence this truth based on some emotional fear or cowardice. It is for this reason that we must denounce the path led by many Jews and Jewish leaders who play "religious apologetics." Our goal is not to be liked by other religions, but to share the truth, despite their initial disagreement with us. We must prefer their rejection and speak God's truth. For only through our honest representation of Judaism will other religions come to appreciate the brilliance and perfection of Torah. Only through our honest condemnation of false religious notions will other religions recognize the fallacy of their beliefs.
Interfaith dialogue lies to other religions. It says that we share something in common, when we do not. Nothing is further from God's Judaism than Christianity's deification of man. This idolatry is Torah's antithesis. Moses was respectful to Pharaoh, and we too are respectful to Christians, Muslims and others, as we respect all God's creations. But we must be clear with them that we do not accept their religious corruption in any measure, their falsehood, and their denial of God's Torah commands. This emotional insecurity to gain favor with other religions hurts Judaism, and misrepresents God's will for mankind.
Judaism requires courageous leaders who value truth over friendship, and rejection over popularity. To become the beacon God desires, our message must be truthful, clear, pure and undiluted by all social motivations:
- Religious life must adhere to reason just as any science; proof is required.
- All other religions lack proof of Divine origin and design and are false. God revealed Himself and His religion only once, at Mt. Sinai.
- All other religions accept fantasy – a violation of God's will – as God wants us to engage the intelligence He gifted us in all areas, certainly in religious life.
- Deifying man violates God's commands.
- There is no common ground between Judaism and any other religion. Interfaith dialogue and religious apologetics suggest there is. This misleads other religionists and prevents them from learning Judaism's unique nature. It hides God's message to all mankind.
Torah contains absolute truth. By hiding it in any measure, we violate God's will and show no concern for other human beings. Let us be severely conscious that we were not created to cater to men, but to obey God, to benefit all of mankind. If we follow God, and He is our focus, we will shed the desire to be accepted by men and false religions, we will courageously take pride in the one true religion, and we will create the example that will elicit the world's response: "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people!"