Was the Torah Ever Lost?
Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: Was the book of Deuteronomy ever lost? I've read in a few history books that King Josiah rediscovered this book at around the time of 620-621 BCE. I am asking this question because I was under the impression that the five books of Moses were passed down from generation to generation with total continuity. I would appreciate it if you could help clarify this issue for me.
Mesora: In Kings II, 22:8, we find the account of the High Priest Chilkyahu who finds a Torah in the dilapidated Temple. At the same time, King Yoshiyahu was restoring the Temple ruined by his predecessors. Passage 22:2 states that King Yoshiyahu veered neither left or right from all the ways of King David. Clearly, King Yoshiyahu kept the Torah. These were exclusively the ways of King David.
The Rabbis are of the opinion that when they read the Torah, and the King rent his garments, this refers to finding it "rolled to a particular area" which dealt with curses and exile. It is clear then that King Yoshiyahu observed Torah. This incident of finding a Torah in the Holy of Holies was not the first incident King Yoshiyahu experienced.
Do you ask if the Torah was forgotten by King Yoshiyahu? He would not have been able to recognize this scroll as a Torah. He would not have known what the Torah was. Or do you ask if the Jews forgot the Torah? The Radak explains that during Menashe's reign, the Jews pursued idolatry and ceased from following Torah. This continued until King Menashe repented. It does not mean they forgot what Torah was. It means they abandoned Torah. Could you imagine that our history, in any civilization would be blotted out or forgotten? That the event at Mt. Sinai would also be forgotten?
Rebelliousness does not cause one to forget. If we suggest that many did forget Torah, we still see Menashe repented and did not forget. We see the Torah was never abandoned permanently. Repentance means that one knows what
to return to.

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