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Friday, May 18, 2012

Questions About Judaisms' Truths

We have always been taught to question, in Judaism.  Jews love pilpul, by definition: love to talk, analyze, discuss, sharply critique.  You may have heard the joke about walking down the street and seeing coming towards you three men in Hassidic dress (as opposed to three obvious Muslims in Muslim dress).  What would you fear? That they'd physically attack you? Be terrorists? No, you'd be afraid they'd debate you to death.  So that's us, the People of the Book (as opposed to the so-called "religion of peace," who are really the 'people of the sword').

Here comes a Jew, educated in England and recently retired from The Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Dr. Norman Solomon, who poses the ultimate, most controversial question: is the Torah really Divine in origin?  In his book, Torah from Heaven, he explores the idea that, in light of our more modern knowledge of science and historical critique, can the notion of the Torah being divinely inspired still hold up? This is from an article in Jewish Ideas Daily, by Lawrence Grossman:

Norman Solomon is a distinguished British academician, recently retired from the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, who whimsically claims to belong to the "skeptical Orthodox."  His latest book, Torah from Heaven, certainly exudes skepticism.  It argues that the central assumption of classical Judaism—the divine origin of Torah—has become so clearly unbelievable in its literal sense that the only way to keep intellectually honest Jews from abandoning Orthodoxy is to reinterpret the doctrine not as fact but as foundational myth.  Solomon, tongue firmly in cheek, tries to reassure the faithful by pointing out that myths are not necessarily false.  But he clearly thinks this one is.
Solomon painstakingly traces the development of the notion of Torah from Heaven as it mushroomed to include not only the divinity of the Five Books of Moses and the somewhat lesser holiness of the rest of the Hebrew Bible, but also a divinely inspired Oral Torah, eventually written down in the Talmud, that explains and elucidates scripture, and rabbinic decrees and interpretations through the generations that are also alleged to embody God's will.  Solomon then surveys the ancient and medieval critiques of the doctrine, which either denied the Oral Law (Sadducees and Karaites) or superseded or replaced both it and the Bible with a new revelation (Christians and Muslims). 
I myself have had questions about the origins of Judaism, and the interpretation of the "Great Event" that happened to the Jews in the Sinai desert--the "giving of the Torah," witnessed by at least 600,000 (not including women and children, which would bring the number close to a million) people.

I still consider myself Orthodox, however, and follow the Orthodox lifestyle, because I believe it is a good one. It places a high value on a positive outlook, that we are responsible for our own actions, that we have a Divine purpose in life.  It also values treating others as you would want yourself to be treated.   And it makes time Holy,  by emphasizing holidays, especially that of Shabbat at the end of each week, as a day devoted to emulating G-d, and involving oneself with spiritual matters rather than the workaday mundane world of the rest of the week.  But intellectually, I still have those nagging questions.  Maybe the event that happened those thousands of years ago was misinterpreted, owing to the fact that people had only the scientific knowledge of their day? It is food for thought.  But meanwhile, I wish everyone a Shabbat Shalom!



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5 comments:

Nancy S. said...

I 'know' the Israelites were set apart by G-d and the Torah was given by G-d. Wow, big mouth full. I started to say believe, but I'm up to knowing it. So how come I'm so sure?
Here is the process and some scattered thoughts that got me there...
1. Spending time with G-d. Lady-light mentioned Holy days. But I also spend time alone talking to H-m, and sometimes I get replies (thoughts in my mind) giving insight into who/what G-d is.
2. Studying - I was able to spend a year at Hebrew University studying archaeology. That gave me a little insight to the Hebrew mind of 2000 and 3000 years ago - studying the Tanach while thinking of the writers mindset.
3. From a technical point of view - I'm an Engineer and reasoning has led me to conclude from a scientific view the existence of a Creator and a Divine plan. Did you know that most Physicists believe in a Creator. Something about the Laws of Thermodynamics being negated without Divine beginnings.

After a year at Hebrew University, I worked at the Technion for 4 years. Most of my colleagues were secular, a few were Orthodox. But mostly they followed the beliefs of their parents or peers. Meeting someone who actually believed in the existence of a Divine Plan led to great discussions and debates and further insight for me.

So here is what I know from my journey. I'm not Jewish but I believe in one G-d, 'Hear O Israel the L-rd our G-d is one G-d'. I 'know' the Jewish people are still G-d's people and an Entity that can create universes, can implement and maintain a plan to Holiness. And I believe that the New Testament is a fulfillment not a negating of the Tanach. (Yeshuah was G-d incarnate)

Conclusion - seeking G-d on a one-to-one basis led to knowing H-m.

Lady-light please feel free to edit the comments if you wish to post any of them.

Thank-you for letting me comment.

Nancy

Lady-Light said...

Nancy S., Of course I'll let you comment. My only requirements are that comments be 1)civil, and 2)NOT proselytizing.

That said, I must say that although I disagree with your assessment of the New Testament and its contents, I do agree with you that there is something extremely special about the Jewish People, and I attribute it to the Torah-what else could I attribute it to? The ancient Israelites experienced a seminal event over 3,000 years ago--long after a man named Avraham "discovered" G-d and thus created a connection between himself,future Jews, and The Creator--which defined the purpose of their existence from that point hence.

By the way, do I know you...?

allan said...

I suggest you first to visit the site divineinformation.com and see the hole video torah and cience>It can change your life.
Also watch the lectures and read the books of rabi Zamir Cohen.All of them have solid cientific proofs that the torah is divine.Its amazing and can revive your soul
.We live in confused times but with proper searching people can realize that the Torah is divine.
What are your doubts?The age of the world ??
See the book of Rabi Arieh Kaplan about the age of the world(just search in google).A lot of rabis don´t know this view of disciples of Arizal.
I strongly recomend you the blog
absolutetruth613.blogspot.com/
It have intelingt aprouch to the divinity of Torah and the Truth.
Those videos show how the Hebrew only could be created by god:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXEXE43QPXU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RONoBEXYrVw
Veysrat ashem this will eliminate your doubts! But this is the beggining the best think you can do is study torah every day and keepink mitzvot ,its a medicine for the soul.
Who I am to give you consels?No one but you can ask a rabi for advices .

There are others sources that I could suggest you but for now its sufficient.

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