Is Torah Divine?
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: If the Torah is a truly divine text (not just a matter of personal belief) it should have a message to all humanity and not just a tribe from the desert. After all, we all are humans, not just the Jews (despite the Orthodoxy saying otherwise) . And if it had a message for mankind it should have information that is actually important, relevant and beneficial to all Humanity. But this is not what a intelligent person sees in it.
Rabbi: Orthodoxy does not say as you say. Orthodoxy views all humans as equal. We all descend from Adam and Eve. I have written on this many times on Mesora.org. Search for “human equality” or “gentiles.”
"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 gave one religion, for all mankind, for all time.
Torah is for all mankind, and says this a number of times, “One Torah for the born Jew and the convert.” Search Mesora.org for “one Torah.”
Reader: What I see is a useless text for practical purposes of life. Sure, by reading the Law of Moses, I perceive that it have a lot a information about the culture and beliefs of this old desert tribal group of humans; but, not a single bit of information about reality. Nothing that could be relevant for anyone but those from that religion. If I'm not Christian or Jew, why should I care for it? And I'm not talking about the existence of a God here. I'm talking about considering "this text" as His Revelation, as divine, for real.
Rabbi: Every text, every law is relevant for every human being. We share one design; philosophically, psychologically and morally. What God intended was that the Jew preserve His Bible (we were the only monotheists at that era) and then teach the world. Torah governs morality, ethics, justice and a host of other topics crucial for society. I teaches truths about God and its cryptic style that is accompanied wit the Oral law (Talmud) engaged the minds of thousands of wise people for millennia…may whom converted to Judaism based on Torah’s brilliance.
Reader: It does not inform about how nature truly works, as biology does. It does not have any astronomical information to teach me about the Universe. I mean, any part of the truth that has been testified by science (biology, astronomy, chemistry, anthropology, or medicine) to help us amplify our vision of the Universe and actually live better. In fact is quite the opposite.
Rabbi: The Bible is not about medicine, science or astronomy, it is a book to guide man in his perfection.
Reader: Even intelligent religious people must change their interpretations of this book because of science, not the other way around! Science discovered and revealed the world in ways that put the "divine" book behind, to say it politely. It should be the opposite, should it not? If a prophet from the Middle East with no knowledge about modern science received a message from "the" Creator that would baffle and impress scientist big time, who wouldn't be amazed? Everyone would.
Rabbi: Maimonides, our greatest philosopher since Moses, stated we accept science. And nothing in the Bible contradicts science. As a matter of fact, Maimonides discusses how Genesis’ depiction of Creation’s order jives with natural law (Guide, pp 212, Freidlander).
Reader: So forgive me for my honesty but this book does not seems very special, let alone Divine. A divine text that teaches pretty much everything that other religions teaches, some common and simple ideas like don't steal or don't kill, be good and faithful (which are very important indeed but not necessarily "divine") does not impress much.
Rabbi: You do yourself a grave injustice by assessing the Bible with such a surface glance. I have been studying the Bible, Talmud and Rabbis for 4 decades, and you are invited to read what I have discovered over that span of time. I have seen great marvels of wisdom, and continue to see even more. Countless sages and rabbis before have written volumes on the Torah. How were so many brilliant minds convinced of Torah’s divine origin, but you are not? Perhaps Talmud and Torah have more to say than you have read.
Reader: And perhaps that time, those instructions about how to slaughter animals, make sacrifices and build tents-temples were considered relevant for them, I get that…but today we are not driven to the belief in the existence of a supernatural being that write books based on such a text. We need something more substantial, don't you think?
Rabbi: Much is written on slaughtering and what renders a kosher animal edible or inedible. All of these laws are based on beautiful principles, which you have clearly never learned. These principles are found in the Talmud, and as stated, the greatest of minds have spent centuries commenting on and explaining the Talmud.
Reader: So why there is no information in it about what really matters to all of us: How to cure those incurable diseases or, what is out there in the deep Space (is there life or is there a way to get there?) and also, how to solve the nations’ problems like conflicts and poverty or anything about the DNA and the connections of all forms of life on this planet? Science has given us much more than any religion ever had. Including this one.
Don't you think a Creator wouldn't let us know more than this? That a communication from such a Being would be so great that we would be studying His words for thousand of years actually extracting Scientific information from it? Why in this only and "true" revelation of God on this planet, we got no information about Bacteria or Fungus? (A very important piece of information by the way) Think about how many lives would have being saved if the Jews knew about it! We would have reached the Modern Times thousands of years ago. Imaging how many problem could be avoided! But in this book (Torah) there is no information about how to deal with a virus, or bacteria, no knowledge about life cells, DNA or anything that led us to Modern times.
Rabbi: Again, the Bible is not addressing anything but human perfection which is arrived at through God’s commands which govern morality, prayer, worship, ethics, ownership, damages, character, holidays, marriage and other elements to perfect man. On the other hand, sciences do not perfect man’s morality, ethics, philosophy or justice, so they are not in the Torah. But God equipped man with intelligence to study farming, medicine, exercise, diet, the cosmos, biology and more. King Solomon spoke about the natural world and when world leaders heard his wisdom, they were awestricken. The lack of scientific knowledge in the Torah in no manner reduces its divine nature. That is not the Torah’s purpose.
Reader: Why then should anyone think it is a product of the Divine Mind? And those who received it and studied it their entire lives did not come with brand new relevant and true information from it to benefit all humanity, in all those thousand of years studying it. So why bother?
What I want to know this: What is really the evidence that Torah is Divine? This theory of mass revelation is surely not enough. Besides all the poor content of the book I mentioned, the Catholic (you know them, there are many of them here in Brazil) had a most recent (from 1917) and equally "amazing" history of "mass witnessing" : The apparition of Fatima (There were - they claim - 7 apparitions - the first ones to children but the last ones in public) and the very last one, with 70 thousands witnesses!). The same claim for the "truth” on the mass witness event of thousands of years ago, could easily be used to support one so recent and better documented! But ironically from both "mass revelations" we have the same result: Ritual Instructions not relevant for those outside that religion.
Rabbi: Fatima was a claim about solar optical illusions. This is what is written about it:
“There has been much analysis of the event from critical sociological and scientific perspectives. According to critics, the eyewitness testimony was actually a collection of inconsistent and contradictory accounts. Proposed alternate explanations include witnesses being deceived by their senses due to prolonged staring at the sun and then seeing what they had come to the site expecting to see - something unusual.”
Study the Proof of Sinai: www.mesora.org/god Here is your proof of Divine origin. You will see clearly how Sinai contains elements in its historical account that no other story contains. 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.