Evidence of the Divine Origin of the Torah
We will now take a break from our analysis and refutation of Zeligman's attacks and focus on what is the rational basis of belief in Judaism. We will resume our refutation of Zeligman at a later date.
The purpose of this essay is to provide evidence that G-d gave the Jewish people the Torah at Sinai approximately 3300 years ago. I will not attempt to provide absolute proof for this, since absolute proof is almost impossible to find for most historical occurrences. We believe historical occurrences if the evidence suggests that it is likely true. Is anyone today 100% certain that Lewis and Clark discovered much territory in the western US? Perhaps they made it up or embellished their experiences? Yet we believe in Lewis and Clark’s expedition because the evidence suggests that this is so.
Nor do we use absolute proof for most of our life’s decisions, such as choosing a mate, buying a house, or choosing a university. So too, when choosing whether to believe and/or follow a divine Torah, what is required is strong evidence that it is G-d given. If the evidence is there, it is likely true.
In general, people who require absolute proof are either intellectually immature or trying to shut down a conversation. We cannot even be sure that we are who we perceive ourselves to be. Perhaps we are hallucinating and in reality we are someone else? But the truth is that we make life’s decisions based on what is most likely true and what seems to be factually correct.
The Nature of the Evidence Being Presented
I will attempt to provide pieces of evidence which, if taken by themselves, will not necessarily convince anyone of the divine origin of Torah. The strength of these arguments is not in each individual piece of evidence, but in the totality of the evidence being presented. That is, if you take all of the points being made altogether, you will see that they present a strong case for the divine origin of the Torah. While a skeptic can poke holes in each argument by itself, or say that there are other possibilities as to how they could have occurred, an honest observer will be impressed by the totality of the evidence.
What I will attempt to do is bring each piece of evidence and explain it concisely. I may cite an objection to the evidence from atheist/skeptic sources, and then explain why their objections are invalid.
It is important to point out that the skeptic is as married to his skeptical non belief in G-d as the believing Jew is married to his Judaism. The notion that all atheists, agnostics and skeptics are dispassionate and open minded as to whether G-d and Torah are true, is a misreading of human nature. A good article on the subject con be seen here: http://torahexplorer.com/2013/06/28/origin-of-life-and-philosophical-outlook/
Therefore, I make no attempt to convince the skeptic of anything. The only one who will seriously examine the evidence being proposed, is someone who feels some sort of connection to Judaism in the first place and who would not be disappointed if Torah was objectively true.
Is Evidence Necessary
Many will question the need for this entire article, because for many people, evidence of the truth of Torah isn’t necessary. They say that spiritual truths are felt internally. To quote two of the most seminal Torah thinkers of the previous generation:
A) R’ Menachem M Shneerson: “All the elaborate proofs, all the philosophical machinations, none of that will never stand you firmly on your feet. There's only one thing that can give you that, and that's your own inherent conviction. For even as your own mind flounders, you yourself know that this is so, and know that you believe it to be so. It is a conviction all the winds of the earth cannot uproot, that has carried us to this point in time, that has rendered us indestructible and timeless. For it comes from within and from the heritage of your ancestors who believed as well, back to the invincible conviction of our father, Abraham, a man who took on the entire world. The doubts, the hesitations, the vacillations, all these come to you from the outside. Your challenge is but to allow your inner knowledge to shine through and be your guide. Inside is boundless power.”
B) R’ Yosef D Soloveitchik: “Does the loving bride in the embrace of her beloved ask for proof that he is alive and real? Must the prayerful soul clinging in passionate love and ecstasy to her Beloved demonstrate that He exists? So asked Soren Kierkegaard sarcastically when told that Anselm of Canterbury, the father of the very abstract and complex ontological proof, spent many days in prayer and supplication that he be presented with rational evidence of the existence of G-d.”
Furthermore, one who studies Torah in depth, specifically, the oral Torah in all of its depth, complexity, rigorous logic, etc, can sense that it is something which is beyond the capability of humans to produce. One who spends significant time studying a section of Talmud in depth, analyzing the questions of Tosafos, the decisions of Rambam, the questions of Ketzos, the answers of Nesivos, the ‘chakira’ of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, etc, gets the sense that an oral law studied for hours daily by hundreds of thousands in each generation, is not likely to have developed from the writings of a few men redacting the bible in some Middle Eastern cave, 3000 years ago. One who studies scripture with the commentary of Vilna Gaon, Malbim, Rav SR Hirsch, etc, has a feeling that there is a certain elegant beauty of the words, the concepts and ideals being proposed for it, to make it unlikely to be a human conception. Furthermore, while concepts like gematriah (numerology) are sometimes suspicious, if not specious, the amazing word acronyms, connections, number values, etc, found in books such as Baal Haturim and Bircas Peretz, which often show the inherent connection between a specific verse and a related derivation of the verse only found in the Talmud, gives us a sense that the Five Books of Moses could not have been the product of a human mind.
Still, many people need a rational basis for belief in Judaism, either because they lack a deep knowledge of Torah or conviction of its truth, or in order for them to feel confident in being a practising Jew, as opposed to believing in another religion or secularism. I’ve written this article for them.
The Objectivity of the Torah
Torah is different than almost all of ancient history in its objectivity.
In his "Society must be Defended", Michel Foucault posited that the victors of a social struggle use their political dominance to suppress a defeated adversary's version of historical events in favor of their own propaganda, which may go so far as historical revisionism (see Michel Foucault's analysis of historical and political discourse above). Nations adopting such an approach would likely fashion a "universal" theory of history to support their aims, with a teleological and deterministic philosophy of history used to justify the inevitability and rightness of their victories (see The Enlightenment's ideal of progress above). Philosopher Paul Ricoeur has written of the use of this approach by totalitarian and Nazi regimes, with such regimes "exercis[ing] a virtual violence upon the diverging tendencies of history" (History and Truth 183), and with fanaticism the result.
To quote Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb (he received his Ph.D. in mathematical logic at Brandeis University and was a Professor of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University) in Living Up to the Truth, “Now, in making that evaluation you must know one fact - all ancient histories were written as propaganda. This is something upon which historians and archaeologists agree. The function of ancient histories was to glorify contemporary powers, and therefore they would not record their own defeats. After all, the scribes were their employees. You see this, for example, in the following type of historical chain of events. You read in the hieroglyphs that Pharaoh X raised a great army and conquered a number of provinces, and his son Pharaoh X Jr. raised even a larger army and conquered more provinces. Then, there is a hundred year gap in the history. What happened during that 100 years? For that you have to go to the Babylonian records. That is when the Babylonians were kicking the stuffing out of the Egyptians. The Egyptians don't record that because that doesn't glorify their empire. They just leave it out.
An example is the question of the Exodus. Why is it that no ancient Egyptian records mention the Exodus? The answer is that the Egyptians never recorded their defeats. Therefore, since the Exodus was a massive defeat, you would not expect them to record it. So, its absence from their records is not evidence against the Exodus.”
See the unreliability of Manetho an important ancient Egyptian historian, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manetho.
Regarding the Greek and world historian Herotodus, the following has been said : “Just as Homer drew extensively on a tradition of oral poetry, sung by wandering minstrels, so Herodotus appears to have drawn on an Ionian tradition of story-telling, collecting and interpreting the oral histories he chanced upon in his travels. These oral histories often contained folk-tale motifs and demonstrated a moral, yet they also contained substantial facts relating to geography, anthropology and history, all compiled by Herodotus in an entertaining style and format. It is on account of the many strange stories and the folk-tales he reported that his critics in early modern times branded him 'The Father of Lies'” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herotodus
Also see the following regarding ancient Egyptian history http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/
History which is not objective is not so reliable.
However, the Torah is quite different. The Torah is not only objective, it is one of the most anti Semitic works in world history. The Jewish failures, foibles and sins are bared for all to see. A quick perusal of the Torah will show that Moses does not say one complimentary word to the Jews (when he is speaking to them - he does compliment them before G-d). This is true not only of the common Jews, but even more so of Jewish heroes and kings.
Abraham and Isaac have bad sons, Jacob marries the daughters of an idol worshipping crook, who then give birth to the 12 tribes who form the basis of the Jewish people. Jacob’s children commit many acts which paint them in a poor light (the Talmud shows how they were, in reality, not so bad. However, the Torah does not cover anything up) including the stories of Dina, Judah and Tamar, Reuben and Bilhah, Simon and Levi in Shechem, etc.
The Jews glorify their ancestors as - slaves and idolaters!! Their leaders Moses and Aaron hit a water producing rock instead of speaking to it and aren’t allowed into Israel. This sin and punishment is repeated numerous times in the Torah. Aaron - father of the priestly class, builds the Golden Calf. The Jews commit sin after sin in the desert and are punished constantly. Almost the entirety of the books of prophets are replete with reproof of the sinning of the Jews and how the prophets berate them at every turn. The Jewish books of the Prophets are so negative towards the Jews, that it is almost one long litany of criticism of its own people.
Even Kings David and Solomon are severely criticised for their sins. King David, the father of the royal line of the Jewish people is berated constantly for his shortcomings and his family’s improper actions are exposed for all to see. Do you find anything even remotely like this in ancient history, where a society’s historic books paint their own people and heroes in such a negative light?
Objectivity is a sign of truth and the Torah is a most objective document.
The Wisdom of Hebrew Language
(Special thanks to R’ Ephraim Nissenbaum who provided much of the material here)
When we study languages, there is no apparent reason why words mean what they do. There is no reason why man is called a man, or a river is called a river, the letter a is designed as it is, or called an a, etc, other than that was what society decided it as such. This is not the case when it comes to Hebrew (I mean here biblical Hebrew, not modern Hebrew which has many newly introduced words, such as “autoboos” for bus). Each letter and word have deep meanings, in terms of their shape, word roots, numerical value, etc. This is evidence of a “Designer” who meant it to be this way. As the Midrash Bereishis 18 states, “The world was created with the holy (Hebrew) language.”
Let us give some examples of the depth and wisdom of biblical Hebrew:
1. Adam, the first human, was called Adam אדם, which means ‘human’. This word in Hebrew is a combination of aleph, daled and mem. Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, has the numerical value (See here for Hebrew letter numerical values, names and shapes)of 1. The alef is formed by two yuds, one to the upper right and the other to the lower left, joined by a diagonal vav. While this alone has deep meaning, the simple numerical value of two yuds and a vav is 26. Interestingly, the way we spell G-d’s name (but don’t say it - due to it’s holiness) is Yud - hay - vav - hay, which also equals 26. An aleph starts off the word that means human, because each human is given a soul which is contains a divine spark, as it were.
Let’s now go to the second half of the Adam, the letters daled mem which spell dam, ‘blood’. This indicates that each human is physical, as defined by the blood, our life source. So each human has divine characteristics, as expressed by the aleph, and physical ones, as expressed by daled mem.
A seemingly unrelated quote from Talmud Kiddushin 30b: “There are three partners in the creation of man, “ G-d, the mother and father.” What is amazing is that we see this in the numerical value of the word Adam as well. In Hebrew, a father is called “Av,” aleph bet, which equals 3 and a mother is called “Aim,” aleph mem, which equals 41. (The usual words of Imma and Abba mean mom and dad) The word Dam (daled mem) also equals 44. To signify that the father and mother supply a person’s physical life force - the dam, blood. On top of the that, the Aleph in the beginning of Adam, is the divine spark in a human.
2. The word for ears is aznayim. A related word with the same root, is moznayim, which means measuring scales (used to weigh something by balancing a weight against the object being placed on a scale). It is only recent that science has discovered that a body’s sens of balance is based in the ear.
The word for a hand is Yad - yud daled, which equals 14. Count the joints in your hand, there are 14 of them. Two hands together yad/yad, spells yedid - close friend, which is symbolized by a hand in hand. Furthermore, the numerical value of yedid is 28, the same as the word koach - strength. Because when you use two hands, you are putting in strength.
The word for pregnancy is herayon - hay resh yud vav nun - which equals 271. 271 days equal three quarters of a year, the approximate amount of time that a woman is pregnant. Interestingly, the first two letters of Herayon are hey resh, which mean mountain - a pregnant women’s belly looks like a mountain.
Water is spelled Mayim mem-yud-mem. Interestingly, the chemical makeup of water is two atoms of hydrogen surrounding one atom of oxygen.
The letter vav is used in the beginning of words to mean ‘and.’ When spelled out as a word it means a hook, something which connects things. The shape of a vav also looks like a hook ו
The first letter, aleph, represents G-d and His unity. The second letter bais, represents multiplicity, which is why the Torah starts with a bais, because Torah is the study of the human condition from a divine perspective; Divine anthropology, as R’ SR Hirsch put it. It is interesting to note that a garment in Hebrew is spelled bais-gimel-daled, beged, which are the next three letters after aleph, to connote that G-d covered Him unity, by creating a world of multiplicity. The other word for clothing is me’eel, which is the same root as the word for desecrating holy objects, me’eelah, for by desecrating them, one is covering over the object’s holiness. (Heard from R’ Dr. Akiva Tatz)
There are many such amazing word and letter values in Hebrew, I am merely giving you a taste.
3. We also see that seemingly disparate words, which have no connection to each other in other languages, are intricately connected in Hebrew, by a two letter basic root. Let’s see some amazing examples:
Birds have the following characteristics: They chirp, fly, can see far while flying, and are covered with feathers. The Hebrew word for bird is צפּור, tzipor. The first two letters, tzadi fay, are the two letter root of the word. Chirping is tziftzoof - tzadi fay, tzadi fay (a double of the letters suggests a lot of that thing - birds chirp a lot). To fly is tzaf - tzadi fay. To see far is Tzofeh - tzadi fay hey. Feathers are tzifiyah - tzadi fay yud hey. (As a side note, chirping birds are heard in the morning, which is called tzafrah in Aramaic, a Semitic language)
Seemingly disparate words with the letters ches lamed חל, almost always refer to that which lacks firmness. In English, there is no word connection between a hole, dead body, an ill person, rust, sand, fat, milk, the beginning of something, a window, to switch, separation, weakness, removal of something, or a dream. But in Hebrew, these disparate words all have the same root of ches lamed because they all describe things which lack firmness and a basis: A hole - ches lamed lamed, dead body - ches lamed lamed, an ill person - ches lamed hey, rust - ches vav lamed daled, sand - ches vav lamed, fat - ches lamed vais, milk - ches lamed vais, the beginning of something - hey tav ches lamed hey, a window (in old times there was no glass, just a hole in the wall) - ches lamed vav nun, to switch - ches lamed fay, separation - ches lamed koof, weakness - ches lamed shin, removal of something - ches lamed tzadi, a dream (something fleeting) - ches lamed vav mem.
The root letters of גל, refer to things which move or are removed. In English, to reveal, a wave, a wheel, feces, to cut off and exile, have no word connection. But in Hebrew, reveal - gimel lamed vav tav, wave - gimel lamed, wheel - gimel lamed gimel lamed (double gimel lamed because it’s always moving), feces (removed from the body) - gimel lamed lamed, cut off - gimel lamed vav ches, exile - gimel lamed vav tav.
There are many more such examples.
Additional resources: Mystical depth of Hebrew: http://www.inner.org/hebleter/index.htm
Isaac E. Mozeson The Word: The Dictionary That Reveals The Hebrew Source of English:
The Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet: http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/0899061931
Objections to this piece of evidence:
Objection 1. There seem to be many languages before the generation of the dispersion which, according to the Torah (Genesis 11), seems to be the earliest development of languages other than Hebrew. Archaeologists believe that languages were developed thousands of years before that and that even Egyptian language was going through a transitional stage at that time.
Reason why this objection is incorrect: Talmud Yerushalmi Megillah 1:9 states two opinions as to what the verse (Genesis 11:1) means when it says that the world was "Safah achas udevarim achadim." One opinion is that everyone spoke Hebrew (as cited by Rashi here) and the other is that they spoke 70 languages. We can say that the whole world spoke Hebrew in addition to one their own languages (out of 70) which were derived from Hebrew. (I.E. Mozeson actually shows how all of language can be traced back to something close to Hebrew http://www.amazon.com/Origin-Speeches-2nd-Isaac-Mozeson/dp/0979261805/ref=tmm_pap_title_0)
Actually, it is most reasonable to assume that humankind spoke many languages along with Hebrew before the generation of the dispersion, because if they only spoke Hebrew till the generation of the dispersion, how did they learn so quickly after G-d confused their language? Did G-d teach each nation its language? This seems unlikely, as only Hebrew is G-d given. It seems more likely that they already knew other languages along with Hebrew as Talmud Yerushalmi indicates.
I recently saw that the commentary Torah Temimah states this exact approach. He proves it by quoting Genesis 10:20 which states ‘These are the sons of Ham according to their families, and their tongues, in their lands, in their nations.’ This means they had languages and this was before the dispersion (haflagah).
Objection 2. Gematria (number values and equations) is not reliable since one can make gematrias of anything:
Reason why this objection is incorrect: We do not claim that all gematrias have meaning - though gematria is one of the ways of deriving concepts in Torah (see #29 of the 32 means of Torah derivation of R’ Eliezer the son of R’ Yosi, found in the back of a standard Talmud Brachos). Even Ibn Ezra (Gen 14:14) states that gematrias can be formed anywhere, even for evil things. The word for smoke in Hebrew is ashan, ayin shin nun, which equals 420, a number associated with marijuana. However, gematrias may be used to express an already true concept, or used as a way of remembering something. The evidence being used here is not suggesting proof, rather, these are amazing ‘coincidences’ which suggest a Divine Designer of Hebrew and not just a language like all others which were man made.
Objection 3. There is an opinion in Sanhedrin 21b that the original Hebrew letters were in Ivri script (Paleo-Hebrew) and only changed to our current script (also called Ashurith) during Ezra’s time.
Reason why this objection is incorrect: A full explanation of the subject can be seen in the second half of this article: http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_pamphlet9.html
The Vilna Gaon, Pi and the Book of Kings
Concerning the “molten sea” made by King Solomon, I Kings 7:23 states “And he made the molten sea, ten cubits from brim to brim; it (was) round all about, and the height thereof (was) five cubits; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.” The question is, how can this be? If it was ten across, it would be more than thirty around. (It would be closer to 31.4, a difference of 1.4 cubits, or approximately 3 feet.) The simple answer is that the Torah is giving an approximate measurement.
However Vilna Gaon enlightens us to the fact that the value of "pi," 3.1415, is hinted in this verse. In Hebrew, each letter has a number associated with it. In the above verse, the word "circumference"(kav) is written one way "kuf vav heh" which equals 111 but it is pronounced a slightly different way "kuf vav" which equals 106. This is called a kri/ksiv, which means that certain words in the Bible are written in Hebrew in one way, but are pronounced another way. The kri is a stated value and perception of the word and the ksiv is an actual value and reality. The ratio of these two numbers equals the ratio of 3 ("pi" as stated by the verse) 3.1415 (the actual value of "pi" to the 10,000th). (111 / 106) x 3 = 3.1415 The fact that pi to the fourth decimal point is hinted to in the very word that means ‘circumference’ is an amazing ‘coincidence’ unless there is an actual ‘Designer’ placing it there as such.
Objections to this piece of evidence:
Objection 1: The word for circumference in that verse contains a vav in the beginning of the word and then spells out kuf vav heh, which would throw off the equation.
Reason why this objection is incorrect: Vav in the beginning of a word means ‘and’ in Hebrew. It is not relevant to the second part of the word, kuf vav heh, which means circumference.
Objection 2: Pi is 3.1415926 while the calculation in the verse is 3.14150943
Reason why this objection is incorrect: The verse never claimed that the molten sea was a perfect circle, only that it was round. As this site says: Some commentaries explain that the 30 cubit measurements of the verse as being taken around the inside of the vessel, while the 10 cubit diameter was measured from the outside of the vessel. The thickness of the walls of the vessel can explain the deviation from a more accurate value of pi. Others explain the deviation by saying that the vessel might not have been perfectly round.
Objection 3: Radak (Rabbi Dovid Kimchi) states that Kri/Ksiv is merely a result of the Jews under Ezra, not having clear knowledge of the spelling of certain words in the bible and so where there were two versions, they wrote it one way and pronounced it the other. Thus, there can be no real meaning behind the words kav and kavva, nor would it’s numerical value be significant.
Reason why this objection is incorrect: Radak’s opinion on this matter is troubling and not well accepted, for the following reasons. Talmud Nedarim 37 states that kri/ksiv are “Halacha L’Moshe Misinai,” laws given by G-d to Moses at Sinai. In other words, kri/ksiv is a tool used purposely in the Bible and not a result of lack of clarity in the text. Furthermore, Talmud Sotah 31, Megillah 27 and other places, derive ideas from kri/ksiv, something that makes no sense if they were mistaken words. Furthermore, there are kri/ksiv in the book of Ezra. Did he not know what he wrote in his own book!? Finally, Radak himself in a few places (such as Zecharia 4:2, Chaggai 1:8 and Amos 8:4) derives ideas from both the kri and ksiv of a verse, which can only mean that they both have meaning and aren’t a result of some mistake. Perhaps Radak understood different kri/ksiv’s in different ways.
Therefore, the opinion of Maharal (tiferes Yisroel 66) and others, that kri/ksiv is a tool used in the Bible to present multiple ideas in a verse, seems more accurate.
Circumcision on the Eighth Day
The Torah commands us to circumcise baby boys on the eighth day after birth. See this site that states: We now know vitamin K is responsible for the production (by the liver) of the element known as prothrombin. If vitamin K is deficient, there will be a prothrombin deficiency and hemorrhaging may occur. Oddly, it is only on the fifth through the seventh days of the newborn male’s life that vitamin K (produced by bacteria in the intestinal tract) is present in adequate quantities. Vitamin K, coupled with prothrombin, causes blood coagulation, which is important in any surgical procedure. Holt and McIntosh, in their classic work, Holt Pediatrics, observed that a newborn infant has “peculiar susceptibility to bleeding between the second and fifth days of life.... Hemorrhages at this time, though often inconsequential, are sometimes extensive; they may produce serious damage to internal organs, especially to the brain, and cause death from shock and exsanguination” (1953, pp. 125-126). Obviously, then, if vitamin K is not produced in sufficient quantities until days five through seven, it would be wise to postpone any surgery until some time after that. But why did God specify day eight?
On the eighth day, the amount of prothrombin present actually is elevated above one-hundred percent of normal—and is the only day in the male’s life in which this will be the case under normal conditions. If surgery is to be performed, day eight is the perfect day to do it. Vitamin K and prothrombin levels are at their peak. Vitamin K and prothrombin levels are at their peak. The chart below, patterned after one published by S.I. McMillen, M.D., in his book, None of These Diseases, portrays this in graphic form.
Holt, L.E. and R. McIntosh (1953), Holt Pediatrics (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts), twelfth edition.
Objections to this piece of evidence:
Objection: How do we know that the Jews picked the eighth day because G-d told them, maybe they figured it out by process of elimination, because that was when most babies would survive the circumcision?
Reason why this objection is incorrect: If the Jews figured that out, why didn’t anyone else? Muslims don’t perform circumcision specifically on the eighth day, nor do Africans, traditionally.
Purim, Esther and the Nazi’s
The holiday of Purim commemorates G-d’s hand in the victory of the Jews of the Persian Empire, over their enemies. One of the evil protagonists of the story was Haman, who came from the nation of Amalek, the historic arch enemy of the Jewish people. Haman plots with the evil King Achashveirosh (Xerxes) to destroy the Jews, only to be stymied by Achashveirosh’s Jewish Queen Esther. Esther has Haman’s ten son’s killed and hanged, while, according to the Talmud (Megilla 16), Haman’s daughter killed herself.
We find many amazing parallels between Amalek, the Purim saga and the Nazis.
- Amalek is referenced throughout Torah literature as the nation dedicated to Jewish destruction and to maintaining a worldview that is diametrically opposed to a Jewish one. Hitler had similar beliefs - See http://jewishethics.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/why-does-antisemitism-exist/ for some striking quotes.
- Talmud Megilla 6 states And Rabbi Yitzchak said: “What is the meaning of that which it is written: 'Grant not Hashem the desires of the wicked one, do not remove his nose ring, that they should be exalted, selah' (Psalms 140:9) Yaakov said: “Master of the World: Do not grant Esau the evil one the desire of his heart – Do not remove his nose ring- This refers to Germania of Edom (Rome), who if they would go forth, they would destroy the entire world. And Rabbi Chama bar Chanina said: There are 300 crowned princes in Germania of Edom (Rome).” The Talmud (written in 550) seems to identify ancient Germania - Germany - of Rome, as a manifestation and descendant of Amalek.
- Germany was known as the Holy Roman Empire and consisted of a confederation of approximately 300 city states (Also see Shirer, “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” page 121) just as the Talmud indicates in Megillah 6.
- Amalek was dedicated to Jewish destruction even if it itself would get hurt as Rashi to Deut 25:18 states: “He cooled you off and made you [appear] tepid, after you were boiling hot, for the nations were afraid to fight with you, [just as people are afraid to touch something boiling hot]. But this one, [i.e., Amalek] came forward and started and showed the way to others. This can be compared to a bathtub of boiling water into which no living creature could descend. Along came an irresponsible man and jumped headlong into it! Although he scalded himself, he [succeeded to] make others think that it was cooler [than it really was]. — [Midrash Tanchuma 9]” Germany diverted badly needed train transports to the eastern front and instead used them to transport Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz (See Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews 1933-1945. Bantam Books, 1975)
- Amalek disdained the mitzvah of circumcision (See Rashi to Deut 25:18 ‘And cut off’ quoting Midrash Tanchuma 9) as did Hitler: The Jews have inflicted two wounds on the world: Circumcision for the body and conscience for the soul. I come to free mankind from their shackles.” (Herman Rauschning, Hitler Speaks, p. 220)
The book of Esther 9:7-9 lists the ten sons of Haman being hanged and includes three small letters, of which there is no explanation given as to why they are written small. Those letters are tav (verse 7), shin and zayin (verse 9) which equal 707 when those letters are used for their numerical equivalents. What is amazing is that there were ten Nazi officers hanged on Oct 16, 1946, which is in the year tav, shin, zayin on every Jewish calendar. (Now, even though it was the year 5707, when Jews write what year it is, they generally leave out the millennium (in this case 5), since that is usually assumed to be known.) That year (1946 post Rosh Hashanah) was written in Hebrew as tav, shin, zayin, the exact letters which are written smaller in Esther 9:7-9, which retells the hanging of Haman’s ten sons. Furthermore, Oct 16 of that year fell out on the Jewish quasi holiday of Hoshana Rabbah, which, according to the Zohar, though one is judged on the Day of Atonement, that verdict is not delivered until the last day of Sukkot (Hoshana Rabbah), and until then a person may still repent (Zohar, Va-Yehi 120a; Terumah 142a). Additionally, we mentioned that Haman’s daughter had previously committed suicide. Hermann Goering was supposed to have been the eleventh Nazi to be hanged but he committed suicide. Goring was alleged to have been a cross dresser.
Finally, what boggles the mind is that, Newsweek reporter Kingsbury Smith, reported that one of the Nazis to be hanged was Julius Streicher, who, as he was about to be hanged, blurted out, “Purim Fest 1946.” There is no reason why Streicher would have said that, since it wasn’t Purim, nor should there have been any mention of it to the American executioners.
The evidence is in the striking coincidence and connection, both historical and Torah based, which connect Amalek, Purim and the Nazis.
Objections to this piece of evidence:
Objection: Dovbear, Talkreason and others, challenge this because Yemenite and Soncino Tanach’s do not have the letter tav shin and zayin as being small in Esther 9:7-9, but tav shin yud or tav shin tav zayin.
Reason why this objection is incorrect: Our small letters of tav shin zayin follows the Aleppo Codex which is the most authoritative version of the Jewish bible that we possess and almost all megillahs that are written today follow this version. Open a standard Artscroll or Koren Tanach and you will see only the tav shin or zayin letters as small. The evidence is in the coincidence. The fact that we all use megillahs which have these three letters being small - the same as the year in which the ten Nazi officers were hanged, is an amazing coincidence, regardless of whether there may be other versions of the megillah.
The Kuzari Principle
The Kuzari principle (This audio by Lawrence Keleman is an excellent presentation of the Kuzari Principle http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEg_Oys4NkA) is an oft quoted, oft misunderstood idea, which has come under attack by many bloggers and academics. Most of the attacks are based on a lack of understanding of the idea in the first place and so they attack it with straw man arguments.
Let’s try to first understand the principle. The Torah in Exodus 19, Deuteronomy 4 and other places, recounts G-d revealing Himself and giving the ten commandments to the entire Jewish nation. The Jewish population at the time consisted of 600,000 males (Exodus 12:37 and other places) between the ages of 20 - 60, aside from all the males under 20 and above 60 and all of the females. Add in the mixed multitude of other peoples that joined them and it is likely that there were 3 million Jews at Sinai.
There are three possibilities here: 1) Moses, or someone similar, convinced the Jews that they experienced a revelation of G-d at Sinai. 2) It was a myth which was eventually accepted by the Jewish people many years or generations after the supposed Sinai event, until it was recorded by human authorship. 3) G-d really gave the Torah at Sinai to the Jewish people.
Let’s take possibility 1 - that the Sinai revelation story was invented by a convincing Moses figure who convinced the Jews that they saw G-d on top of the mountain. The obvious problem is that this seems quite implausible to do. Imagine telling a group of people that they all saw G-d reveal himself to them at Sinai, would they believe him? Of course not. So how do most religions get started? A mass revelation be the best way to start a religion, since it requires no convincing, as all of the people witnessed G-d reveal Himself to them. However, mass revelation is never used by any other religion. Instead, other religions begin with a dynamic leader who convinces others that G-d revealed Himself to that leader or another personality. Mass revelation to an entire people is never used (other than in the Torah) because it is impossible to convince people that G-d revealed Himself to the people themselves if this never occurred to them and that is why we never see this anywhere else in history. (We will later discuss open miracles claimed by other nations such as Jesus walking on water, Aztec revelation, The Fatima Miracle of the Sun, Marian apparitions, etc). Some have proposed that a volcano erupted at Sinai and Moses used it to convince the people. However, that begs the question, why has no other religion historically ever used a natural occurrence to foist a mass revelation story upon its populace if it is so easy to do?
Let’s analyze possibility 2, that Sinai was a myth that was orally given to the Jews by elders until it was recorded.
Jews have been celebrating the Sinai revelation of G-d for many generations. When was the first generation that accepted the Sinai revelation? The Torah claims that the Jews received the Torah from G-d in 1312 BC. Now suppose that someone tried to convince the Jews that lived several generations later, that their grandparents saw G-d at Sinai. Surely they would have rejected him, since, if something of that magnitude had occurred, they would have been told about it by their forefathers. A more effective tool for the originator of Judaism, would be to simply convince them to listen to him, and say that he experienced a prophecy from G-d.
Now suppose we say that the Torah was introduced to the Jews at a much later date, but the leader(s) who introduced it, told the Jews that the book had been forgotten and this leader was merely bringing it back. Alternatively, the Torah and Sinai revelation was slowly developed over many years over the campfires of ancient Canaan (this is commonly called, myth formation), until it was recorded in its current form. There are several problems with these approaches. Firstly, there is no record in the Torah or Prophets of any leader reintroducing the Torah to the people. Surely, such a figure would play a massive role in Jewish history, yet he is never mentioned. (There are those that claim that this figure is Ezra. The problem is that Ezra did not lead the entire Jewish people, only the 42,360 that returned to Israel during the beginning of the second temple. See Ezra 2:64. There were many more Jews that lived in Babylon, North Africa, Yemen, Europe, etc. How did he convince the majority of Jews who were never under his influence - noting especially that most of the populace ignored his directive to return to Israel? Still others claim that the figure who reintroduced the Torah to the Jews many centuries later was the biblical Josiah. We will discuss this later on.) Secondly, The Torah and prophets are remarkably detailed with names, dates, places, events, etc, more so than any other ancient text. There are no hazy time periods to point to where events were not detailed. The transmission of Torah from Rabbi to student, is furthermore very detailed. In each generation there were many Rabbis teaching many students. One such documented line of transmission which runs from Sinai until today can be found at http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/mesora/ It seems unlikely that there was a sudden reintroduction of Torah with a claim that it was forgotten for a number of generations, or a slow steady development of Torah where things got clearer, when there is such specificity in the Torah regarding its history from Sinai onward. If anything, it would behoove the Torah to be as vague as possible regarding immediate history post Sinai.
Furthermore, as Dr. Benzion Allswang pointed out in his classic, “The Final Resolution” (Feldheim, 1988), it seems strange that the Jews are commanded to remember the Exodus (Deut 16:3), receiving Torah at Sinai (Deut: 4:9-10), Egyptian slavery Deut 5, 16 and 24), angering G-d in the desert (Deut 9:7), Amalek’s attack (Deut 25), the ten plagues (Deut 8), Miriam’s skin affliction (Deut 24:9) and wandering in the desert (Deut 8:2). If the Torah was reintroduced at a later time, why command the Jews to remember that which they or their ancestors had never seen? Wouldn’t this raise doubts? Wouldn’t it behoove the leader intent on convincing the Jews of this Torah to not ask the Jews to remember that which never truly occurred?
But most importantly, we need to ask, why did no other religion create a similar mass revelation story? This point is crucial. We would all admit that it is more convincing to start a religion stating to a nation that they all witnessed G-d’s revelation to them, than to say that G-d revealed Himself to one or two leaders who then had to convince others. Yet no other religion does that. Other religions start with a dynamic leader who convinces people to follow him because he is a prophet and G-d revealed Himself to him. No mass revelation to all the followers - that is too difficult to fake and convince people. This is the most important point. Why does nobody else have a mass revelation story to the original followers themselves other than the Jewish people? Is this 100% conclusive proof that the Torah is true? Of course not. It is possible that the Jewish leaders were smarter, more convincing etc. But that is a small possibility. The more likely choice is that this is evidence to the divine origin of Torah - possibility #3, that G-d revealed Himself to the Jews at Sinai.
Objections to this piece of evidence:
There are numerous objections to this argument from Larry Tanner, Baruch Pelta, DovBear, Shlomo Tal, TalkReason, etc. I will try to address the most common objections and explain why they fail to disprove the Kuzari principle.
Objection 1. Perhaps the Torah was forgotten by the Jews during the 57 year reigns of Menashe and Amon, when the Jews were steeped in idol worship and it was reintroduced by Josiah. The discovery of a Torah scroll by Josiah’s servants which is the impetus for national repentance found in II Kings 22, is used as evidence to this.
Reason why this objection is incorrect: This site conclusively destroys this argument: http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/comments/kings-2.htm Furthermore, II Chronicles 33, states that Menashe repented and got rid of idolatry, during his reign. It is clear that there were not 57 consecutive years of idol worship and rejection of Torah.
Furthermore, II Kings 22 first states that an eight year old Josiah did what was proper in the eyes of G-d and only 18 years later does the story of the Torah scroll occur. To prove this point, II Chronicles 34 recounts the story of Josiah, yet the first 14 verses discuss Josiah and the Jewish people’s repentance to G-d and only afterwards does the story of the suddenly discovered Torah scroll occur.
Objection 2. There are other claims of mass miracles which other religions make. They include:
- Miracles of Jesus that are recorded in the gospels https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracles_of_Jesus_in_the_Gospels and miracles in Islamic writings
- The Fatima Miracle of the Sun http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_of_the_Sun and other such miracles and apparitions.
- Aztec National revelation http://orthoprax.blogspot.com/2007/07/aztecs-national-revelation-ii.html and other Native American miracle stories.
What makes the Jewish national revelation better than the other ones listed?
Reasons why the objection is incorrect: Firstly, many of the miracles did not occur to, nor were claimed to have happened to, a mass of people. The Aztec national revelation was relayed to the people by a few priests: http://blog.dovidgottlieb.com/search/label/Kuzari%20Principle The recording of the miracle itself never specifies how many people witnessed the miracle. The Fatima Miracle only had three followers who claimed to have seen Jesus. The rest saw either nothing unusual at all other than some sun activity, or some apparition. There was no mass consensus of a miracle.
Secondly, Judaism has no problem with other religions performing miracles. In fact, Deuteronomy 13 tells the Jews that there will be false prophets with the ability to perform miracles. What Deut. 4:32 - 36 does state is that no other nation will have a true national revelation.
Thirdly, the miracle claims of Jesus and Islam were recorded way after the miracle occurred to a group of people that were not necessarily the descendants of the people to whom the miracle supposedly occurred. Thus there is good reason why they never would have denied having heard of the miracle, because it did not happen to their forefathers, rather to another group of people.
Fourth, if there is one constant in biblical Jewish history, it is that the Jews rebelled against their leaders in almost every generation. They were skeptics. An invention of Judaism or development over time thereof, likely would have led to skepticism about the Sinai event itself, since that is the source of the law that they were rebelling against. Yet nowhere do we find that the Jews doubted the Sinai story. They rebel against G-d, doubt Moses, but never Sinai. Why not? Furthermore, Judaism was a radical departure from the accepted religions and cultures of the time. Numerous inter personal laws, laws that govern agriculture, monotheism, sexual restrictions, etc, were radical ideas at that time. (The notion that the Torah was based on Hammurabi has been discredited. See http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_yitro.html) They had every reason to deny Sinai. As opposed to the Aztec revelation or similar Native American miracle stories, or the Fatima Miracle of the Sun, where there was no challenge to the preexisting notions of the listeners. With the Fatima Miracles, some believed that the sun’s movements looked like an apparition, while some believed it was a natural solar episode. No one’s way of life was challenged. With the Aztecs, suppose the entire story was made up by a priest and he then told everyone about it. Why would they deny it or rebel against him? What was he making them do any different than what they did before? Perhaps they knew at the time that it was a myth but they chose not to challenge it because that served no purpose.
Fifth, the bottom line and crucial point remains, that if it were so easy to start a religion with a mass revelation story and get people to eventually believe it over time through myth formation, then why does no other religion start that way? Why does every other religion start with one or two charismatic leaders convincing everyone else?
Objection 3. There is no outside confirmation of the Sinai event other than what is found in the Torah.
Reason why this objection is incorrect: Whether or not the Torah is the only source of the Sinai revelation is irrelevant. The strength of the Sinai revelation is in the fact that it is the only such claim in the world. It is the strongest way to start a religion and as such should be used by other religions, yet no other religion starts like that.
Objection 4. Even if we cannot find a parallel to Sinai mass revelation, that does not mean the Sinai revelation must have happened. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Furthermore, it isn’t conclusive proof.
Reason why this objection is incorrect: As I stated, we do not base our belief in Judaism only in the Kuzari principle/Sinai revelation. We use it as one piece of evidence along with other pieces of evidence, much the same way we would analyze anything. The composite of evidence is what we use to conclude that the Torah is most likely G-d given. Furthermore, we do not say that the Kuzari principle provides conclusive proof, only that it is a strong piece of evidence.
Further reading: Living up to the Truth: http://ohr.edu/2054 Refutation of critics of Kuzari principle: http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/works/SinaiArgument.htm
The Torah guarantees the eternity of the Jewish people, see Genesis 17:7, Leviticus 26:43, Deuteronomy 4:26-27, and 28:63-64, Isaiah 54, Jeremiah 5, 31, 46 and Malachi 3. The fact that the Jews have survived despite being a persecuted, despised and hated people, dispersed to all corners of the globe, is a sign of the Divine Providence that G-d has had for His people. When other nations are conquered, they almost always integrate and disappear within the culture of the conqueror, yet the Jews have remained a distinct entity
Mark Twain, an agnostic and self-acknowledged skeptic, penned this in 1899 in Harper’s Magazine: “The Egyptian, Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away. The Greek and Roman followed, made a vast noise and they are gone. Other peoples have sprung up, and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out and they sit in twilight now or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal, but the Jew. All other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”
King Louis XIV of France asked Blaise Pascal, the great Christian philosopher, to give him proof of God. Pascal answered, “Why the Jews, your Majesty, the Jews!”
Objections to this piece of evidence:
Objection: The Chinese and Kurds have remained a nation as long as the Jews have:
Reason why this objection is incorrect: These nations have remained indigenous to their historic land and have not been dispersed. Furthermore, they haven’t nearly suffered similar persecution to the Jews. Their survival doesn’t defy the odds, Jewish survival does.
Exile and Dispersion
Leviticus 26:33 and 43, Deuteronomy 4:26-27and 28:63-64, Ezekiel 12:11,15 all guarantee that Jews will have to go into exile and be dispersed among the nations. It is not for nothing that the phrase, “Wandering Jew” exists. This prophecy has been fulfilled and is evident for all to see.
Leschzinsky, “The Jewish Dispersion”, pg. 9 - “When we scan the diaspora of Jewry over the entire globe and throughout the entire civilized world, we are surprised to see that this Nation, which is almost the most ancient in the world, is in truth the youngest in terms of the land under its feet and the sky above its head. As a result of the relentless persecutions and forced expulsions, most Jews are but recent new-comers to their respective lands of residence. Ninety percent of the Jewish people have lived in their new homes for no more than 50 or 60 years! (The Jewish People) are dispersed throughout over 100 lands on all five continents.”
Also see this list for expulsions of Jews throughout history: http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/historyjewishpersecution/
Leviticus 26:36-38, Deuteronomy 28: 32-37, 65-67, Ezekiel 20:31-36 all state that the Jews will be subject to hatred and persecution wherever they wander to. This prophecy has been fulfilled and is evident for all to see. There is no need to document historic anti semitism, as it is well known for it’s uniqueness in world history. This article documents is ubiquitous nature and ferocity, unparalleled throughout history.
Few in Number
God will then scatter you among the nations, and only a small number will remain among the nations where God shall lead you” (Deuteronomy 4:27) The Torah tells us that the Jews shall always remain small in number in spite of the fact that they will be an eternal nation. If we put the Jewish population of Rome somewhere in the millions, it would seem likely that they would today number in the tens of millions or more, yet Jews have never numbered more than 18 million.
Light unto the Nations
Genesis 12:3 G-d tells Abraham, “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you.” And in Gen 22:18, “And through your children shall be blessed all the nations of the world, because you hearkened to My voice.” Isaiah 42:6-7 “I am the Lord; I called you with righteousness and I will strengthen your hand; and I formed you, and I made you for a people's covenant, for a light to nations. To open blind eyes, to bring prisoners out of a dungeon, those who sit in darkness out of a prison.”
The Jewish people have been told that they will be a light unto the nations. Throughout history, the Jews have done this more than any other nation, in spite of the fact that they were never more than a tiny percentage of world population, spread through the world as a hated and persecuted minority.
The world perfect seminar demonstrates how six basic values that every progressive and democratic society now takes for granted, originated from the Jews and their Torah. The Jews have impacted and helped advance civilization, completely out of proportion to their numbers - Jews represent less than 0.2% of world population. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jews for a partial list of Jews who have impacted civilization. 22% of all Nobel Prize winners have been Jewish. Of the four most influential people of the 20th century, Darwin, Freud, Marx and Einstein, the latter three were Jewish. Jews consistently give much more money to charity than do non Jews as a percentage of population.
Pages and pages could be devoted to demonstrating the Jewish impact on the world, instead we’ll merely use two quotes which sum it up well.
John Adams: “I will insist the Hebrews have [contributed] more to civilize men than any other nation. If I was an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations ...They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bubble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern.” John Adams, Second President of the United States (From a letter to F. A. Van der Kemp [Feb. 16, 1808] Pennsylvania Historical Society)
Mark Twain: “If statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky way. properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His contributions to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.” (“Concerning The Jews,” Harper’s Magazine, 1899)
Interdependence of the Jew and Land of Israel
The Torah has promised the Land of Israel to the Jew many times. Archaeological evidence has placed the Jew in Israel for millenia.
Yet in Leviticus 26 (and Deut. 28) G-d promises the Jews that if and when they do not follow His law, He will bring enemies from other lands to destroy Israel and drive the Jews into exile.
In verses 32-33, G-d tells the Jews, “I will make the Land desolate, so that it will become desolate [also] of your enemies who live in it. And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you. Your land will be desolate, and your cities will be laid waste.” Similar prophesies can be found in Deut 29:21-22, Jeremiah 9:10 and Ezekial 33:28-29.
In Leviticus 26:32, 11th century commentator Rashi brings a Talmudic quote “I will make the Land desolate: This is actually a good thing for Israel, namely, that since the Land will be desolate of people living in it, the enemies will not find contentment in Israel’s Land [and will have to leave]. [Torath Kohanim 26:38]”
13th century commentator Nachmanides states a similar idea on that verse: “Similarly, that which He stated here, “and your enemies that shall dwell therein shall be desolate in it,” constitutes a good tiding, proclaiming that during all our exiles, our Land will not accept our enemies. This also is a great proof and assurance to us, for in the whole inhabited part of the world one cannot find such a good and large Land which was always lived in and yet is as ruined as it is [today], for since the time that we left it, it has not accepted any nation or people, they all try to settle it, but to no avail.”
16th century Talmudic commentator Maharsha similarly states (Sanhedrin 98): “As long as Israel does not dwell on its Land, the Land does not give of her produce as she is accustomed. When she will begin to re flourish, however, and give of her fruits in abundance, this is a clear sign that the end—the time of Redemption—is approaching, when all Israel will return to their Land.”
Clearly, the Torah and it’s commentators understood that there is an interdependence of Israel and the Jew.
What is amazing is that when the Jews lived in Israel it was a flourishing land. When they were exiled from Israel, the land did not give forth it’s abundance and much of it was a veritable wasteland with a declining population. Yet with the advent of the recent aliyah’s starting in the late 19th century, Israel has flourished once more.
Regarding the abundance of Israel during the 1st century, second Temple era, when Israel was populated with millions of Jews, Josephus wrote: “For the whole area is excellent for crops or pasturage and rich in trees of every kind, so that by its fertility it invites even those least inclined to work on the land. In fact, every inch of it has been cultivated by the inhabitants and not a parcel goes to waste. It is thickly covered with towns, and thanks to the natural abundance of the soil, the many villages are so densely populated that the smallest of them has more than fifteen thousand inhabitants.” (Josephus, The Jewish Wars; Book III 3:2 Penguin edition, p. 192)
H. T. Frank, Discovering the Biblical World (1975), pp. 20-22 – “The abundance of the Land led to prosperity.In Biblical times the Upper Galilee was heavily forested … The Southern plateau of Samaria ismountainous and … into the Biblical period, the steep hills and valleys were heavily forested. As trees were felled and land gradually laid open the area became famous for its crops. The soil of Southern Samaria, among the most fertile in the land, produced beautiful harvests of grains in the valleys, and the denuded, terraced hillsides became renowned for their olives … The fertility of [Judea’s] soil, particularly at its highest elevation around the ancient capital, Hebron, is so striking that the Bible speaks of it as “the land of milk and honey.” The reference is not to cows and bees, but to the nectar of grapes and to other crops which flourished in abundance … Twenty miles south of Mt. Carmel the narrow coastal lands of Dor open into the wider Plain of Sharon. In Old Testament times … there were thick forests of stout oaks … By the [beginning of the Common Era] Herod the Great had built his wonderful artificial harbor at Caesarea. The area became an economic asset and was famous, as it still is, for its orange groves.”
Yet when the Jews were exiled out of Israel, the land closed up and would not give forth it’s produce until the Jew returned.
Mark Twain, who visited Israel in 1867, describes the Land of Israel, “We traversed some miles of desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given wholly to weeds - A silent, mournful expanse… A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action . The further we went the hotter the sun got and the more rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary the landscape became.” (“The Innocents Abroad” Vol. II)
Alfons de Lamartine: “Outside the walls of Jerusalem however we saw no living being, heard no living voice. We encountered that desolation and that deadly silence which we would have expected to find at the ruined gates of Pompey… A total eternal dread spell envelopes the city, the highways and the villages… the burial grounds of an entire people.” “Recollections of the East” Volume I London (1845) pg. 238 (Hebrew-French)
Professor Sir John William Dosson: “Until today no people has succeeded in establishing national dominion in the land of Israel… No national unity or spirit of nationalism has acquired any hold there. The mixed multitude of itinerant tribes that managed to settle there did so on lease, as temporary residents. It seems that they await the return of the permanent residents of the land.” “Modern Science in Bible Lands” London (1888) Pp. 449-450
It is true that even in the 19th century, prior to mass Jewish immigration, there were pockets of land which were very fertile, such as the Jezreel and Jordan Valley’s, but those were the exception, not the rule.
Yet since the Jew returned to Israel, it has become an agricultural leader. Israel is the only country in the twentieth century to have a net increase in the number of trees in its land, in spite of the fact that much of its land is desert or swamp.
Return To Israel
One of the most amazing historical occurrences in recent history is the prophesied return of the Jews to their ancient homeland (after 2000 years). No other nation in history has returned to its ancient homeland after an extended period of exile.
Deuteronomy 30:1-5 “And it shall come to pass when these things shall come upon you, the blessing and the curse that I have placed before you, you will take it to heart amongst all of the nations where God has scattered you; you will return to the Lord your God and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you today, you and your children with all of your heart and with all of your soul. Then the Almighty will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you; and He will return and gather you from among all of the nations where he has dispersed you. If your dispersed ones will be even at the ends of the heavens, from there God Almighty will gather you and from there He will take you. And God your Lord will bring you to the land that your fathers inherited and you shall inherit it and He will do good for you and make you more numerous than your forefathers.”
Also see Jeremiah 16, 31and 33, Isaiah 41 and Ezekiel 11 and 36 which state similar prophesies.
Israel now has more Jews than any other single country according to: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/jewpop.html This fulfills the ancient promise of G-d to bring His people home after their long exile.
Teshuva - Spiritual Reawakening of the Jewish People
In numerous places, the Torah and prophets speak of a mass Jewish spiritual reawakening at the end of the exile. Maimonides, Laws of Repentance 7:5 states: “All the prophets commanded [the people] to repent. Israel will only be redeemed through Teshuvah. The Torah has already promised that, ultimately, Israel will repent towards the end of her exile and, immediately, she will be redeemed as [Deuteronomy 30:1-3] states: ”There shall come a time when [you will experience] all these things... and you will return to God, your Lord.... God, your Lord, will bring back your [captivity].”
Amos 11 - 13: “Behold, days are coming, says the Lord God, and I will send famine into the land, not a famine for bread nor a thirst for water, but to hear the word of the Lord.And they shall wander from sea to sea and from the north to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it. On that day, the beautiful virgins and the young men shall faint of thirst.”
Also see Malachi 3:23-24
In the last half century the Jewish people has seen an until now unheard of number of Jews numbering in the tens of thousands, previously estranged from Judaism, return and come close to the G-d and Torah of their ancestors. All this in spite of an increasingly secular and anti religious environment in general society.
Shmittah - The Sabbatical Year
In Leviticus 25, the Jews are commanded to refrain from farming and cultivating the land of Israel every seventh year. This commandment should cause deep consternation. In an agrarian society, where 80% of people farmed and the ability to import food for millions of people being unrealistic in ancient times - apart from the fact that Israel was surrounded by enemies who would like nothing more than to see her people die of starvation - it seems to be a suicidal commandment. How long can such a religion last and why would people follow it? More important, what possible benefit can the author of the Torah receive by giving such a commandment? One would imagine that the Torah would at least allow the Jews to rotate which land is rested, so that not everyone rests the land on the same year, but this isn’t the case. Everyone must rest the land on the same year, every seventh year.
But then something even crazier is stated. Verses 20-22 state, “And if you should say, "What will we eat in the seventh year? We will not sow, and we will not gather in our produce!" [Know then, that] I will command My blessing for you in the sixth year, and it will yield produce for three years. And you will sow in the eighth year, while [still] eating from the old crops until the ninth year; until the arrival of its crop, you will eat the old [crop].”
So the author of the bible guarantees that on the sixth year, the Jews will receive a bumper crop to take them through the rest of that year, the seventh and then the eighth year, until the new crop comes in.
One must ask, how long will this religion last? How could the author guarantee a bumper crop the year prior to shmita - sabbatical year? Once again, why make the command - a recipe for suicide - in the first place? Why not at least allow for a rotation so that not everyone refrains from farming on the seventh year?
Unless there is a Divine Author who can guarantee that the Jews will not starve.
Objections to this piece of evidence:
Who says the Jews ever kept Shmitah? Perhaps the author of the bible was never actually tested with this situation?
Reason why this objection is incorrect: The evidence being presented relates to the mitzvah of shmita and the guarantee of a bumper crop prior to the seventh year. Whether or not we can prove that the Jews kept shmitah is beside the point. The question still remains, why make a commandment doomed to failure and destruction of your religion in the first seven years? What is to be gained by this unless you can guarantee its success? And why guarantee a bumper crop unless it is within your power to ensure it?
Objection: Talmud Sanhedrin 26 states that Rav Yannai allowed farmers to plant on shmittah in order to pay the Roman tax, Why was there no bumper crop? What happened to G-d’s guarantee?
Reason why this objection is incorrect: R’ Yaakov Y Reinman answered: “The triple bounty would not be the result of some magical manifestation but rather of an especially good harvest year with plentiful rainfall and everything else being just right. Therefore, the blessing would only manifest itself if all the people kept Shemmitah. Otherwise, you would have to have triple rainfall on one person’s field and normal rainfall on another person’s field. Hashem avoids such overt miracles. (E.g. Exodus 14:21 An east wind blew all night before the sea split.) The blessing was, therefore, promised to the Jewish collective rather than to individual farmers.” This seems reasonable, since the Shmittah commandment is one which was communal in nature.
Aliyah L’regel - Pilgrimage to the Temple
Exodus 34: 23-24 states: “Three times during the year shall all your male[s] appear directly before the Master, the Lord, the God of Israel. When I drive out nations from before you and I widen your border, no one will covet your land when you go up, to appear before the Lord, your God, three times each year.”
The Torah commands Jewish males to make a thrice yearly pilgrimage to the Temple. This means that although Israel was surrounded by enemies, whomever gave the Torah to the Jewish people felt confident enough to guarantee them that during the holidays of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot, no enemy would invade their land, in spite of the fact that there would be no male soldiers to defend the land.
This truly boggles the mind. If the Torah was not from G-d who could guarantee this, why would the author give this command which is a recipe for suicide? What possible benefit can come from this command? Why risk the entire religion and nation on this ridiculous rule. Unless it was given by G-d who could guarantee the Jews their safety.
An Argument Based on the Existence of G-d
92% of Americans believe in G-d or some type of universal spirit. http://www.gallup.com/poll/147887/americans-continue-believe-god.aspx There are many reasons why one would believe in G-d; some more and some less rational. Below are four basic rational reasons to believe in the existence of G-d or some Higher Power:
- It is irrational to suggest that in every area of life we understand that chaos does not cause order, yet the atheist would have us believe that from the chaotic beginning of life we now have brilliant and beautiful order and an ecosystem where each species is so dependent upon another.
- It is irrational to believe that in every area of life, when we see even the simplest design, we assume there is a designer, yet when we see indescribable order and perfection in almost every area of the natural world the atheist would have us believe that they simply evolved through random mutations and natural selection.
- It is irrational to believe that in every area of life we know that something doesn't come from nothing, yet the atheist would have us believe that in the beginning of the world, the big bang started from - ??? (Yes, the atheist asks, where did G-d come from? The answer is of course that we know that physical entities cannot just pop up into existence. But G-d who is reality - not merely a being existing in reality - is the source of all. He cannot come 'from,' He is the 'from.)'
- It is irrational to believe that the things that science can't quite explain, such as our emotions, feelings, sense of morality, etc, are merely an accident.
There is much more, but this is the baseline of why, to many, the existence of G-d is so obvious.
If G-d does exist it would seem logical to conclude that there would be some ultimate purpose in creating us. While one could argue that G-d created the universe and then just left, or that He ignores the world He created, it would strain the mind to understand where exactly an omnipresent being goes, or why He would leave a world to continue to exist though He has no interest in it. It seems much more logical to conclude that He indeed had a plan for us and that He does intervene and take interest in our affairs.
One would assume that G-d would want His creations to have some idea as to what the purpose of life is and how to attain that purpose. We would then look to see which, if any, claim of receiving instructions from G-d is most likely true and to whom it is most likely, that such instructions were given.
Based on the unique nature of Jewish history, it would seem logical to conclude that the Jews were the recipients of such instructions. The Jews have:
- Been around as a distinct entity longer than almost any other group.
- Heavily influenced much of the world’s religion and the Torah forms the basis of much of Western values.
- Influenced the affairs of man more so than almost any other group in history (See ‘Eternal Nation’ above).
- Undergone more hatred and for completely irrational reasons, far more than any other group.
- Lived among almost every culture and society, thus being able to be a world influence.
- Are generally more educated and give more charity than any other nation.
Objections to this piece of evidence: Why would G-d choose to reveal Himself to only one tiny nation and not to everyone? Does G-d play favorites?
Reason why this objection is incorrect: It is beyond the scope of this paper to explain this in detail. An interested reader must study Derech Hashem Part 2 chapter 4 which explains this in depth. This can be found at http://torah.org/learning/ramchal/classes/wog2-4-7.html
Archaeological evidence supporting Torah
Archaeology is a study which is more of an art than a science. I have written extensively on the subject http://truetorah.blogspot.com/2012/05/part-1-archaeology.html and I admit that archaeology can be used to both prove and disprove Torah. In order to show that archaeology does not disprove Torah and also provides some evidence supporting it, I have referenced the following articles. Remember that although most of these sites are Orthodox, they are all well sourced and can be cross checked:
- http://ohr.edu/2053#S2 R’ Dovid Gottlieb on Archaeology
- Biblical Archeological Review Jan. / Feb. 2007 "The Birth and Death of Biblical Minimalism." By Dr. Yosef Garfinkel, professor of archaeology at Hebrew University. On the historicity of King David.
- http://www.aish.com/ci/sam/48969466.html Independent sources confirm many of the major and minor characters of the Bible.
- http://www.aish.com/ci/sam/48967121.html Contrary to popular Egyptologist belief, the Torah does contain numerous hints of contemporary life in ancient Egypt.
- http://www.aish.com/ci/sam/48965991.html The historicity of Balaam, the non-Jewish prophet.
- http://www.aish.com/ci/sam/48931527.html Does archeological data support the Biblical story?
- Archeologists confirm the existence of Biblical Sodom and Gomorrah, finding a once thriving civilization in what is now the Dead Sea desert: https://vimeo.com/229566597
- http://www.aish.com/ci/sam/48938472.html One rabbi asserts that the Exodus never happened. What role does archaeology play in verifying Biblical events?
- http://www.aish.com/ci/sam/48939077.html Is there archaeological evidence that supports the Bible?
- http://www.aish.com/jw/me/68495827.html The Arab onslaught to erase the Jewish people's historical connection with the Temple Mount.
- http://www.aish.com/jw/me/69739402.html Millennia of artifacts with Hebrew inscriptions prove the Jewish presence.
- http://www.aish.com/ci/sam/48964966.html Despite the overwhelming evidence, why do some archeologists claim that Hebron was uninhabited during the times of Moses and Joshua?
W. F. Albright in Archaeology and the Religion of Israel. "The Mosaic tradition is so consistent ... so congruent with our independent knowledge of the religious development of the Near east in the late second millennium B.C. that only hypercritical pseudo-rationalism can reject its essential historicity."
“ Hebrew national tradition excels all others in its clear picture of tribal and family origins. In Egypt and Babylonia, in Assyria and Phonecia, in Greece and Rome, we look in vain for anything comparable. There is nothing like it in the tradition of the Germanic peoples. Neither India nor China can produce anything similar. In contrast with these other peoples the Israelites preserved an unusually clear picture...”[The Jews : The Biblical Period W.F. Albright 1963]
Dr. Yohanan Aharoni, in Canaanite Israel during the Period of Israeli Occupation. "Recent archaeological discoveries have decisively changed the entire approach of Bible critics. They now appreciate the Torah as a historical document of the highest caliber. ... No authors or editors could have put together or invented these stories hundreds of years after they happened."
Dr. Benzion Allswang: The Final Resolution http://www.amazon.com/The-Final-Resolution-Combating-Anti-Jewish/dp/0873064550
Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb: Living Up to the Truth http://new.ohr.edu/992
Rabbi Tzvi Gluckin: Discover This: http://www.amazon.com/Discover-This-Wrote-Torah-Know/dp/0984585648Lawrence Keleman: Permission To Receive: http://www.amazon.com/Permission-Receive-Lawrence-Kelemen/dp/1568710992