Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rejoicing with the Torah

[Simchas Torah at the Western Wall – Jerusalem]

Yesterday I had the privilege of dancing with the Torah scroll in my synagogue on Simchas Torah. As I was doing so, it occurred to me what a marvelous document I was holding. This book is the source for Judaism, Christianity and Islam in all their various forms. It is the basis of Western civilization. Compare the Torah to, for example, the Iliad. The Iliad may be an interesting story, however what did the world learn from it? Without the Torah, there would be no concept of monotheism and altruism. There would not even be an alphabet; the Torah is the oldest complete book written using one.

Critics are quick to point out that the Torah also teaches violence, which is true, for example Numbers 31. However on the other hand, the Torah did not invent violence and surely history would have been equally violent had the Torah never been written.

The longest chapter in the Hebrew Bible, Psalms 119, is nothing but a long series of praises to this greatest book ever published.


Anonymous said...

For one to criticize the Torah condoning violene would be to take those verses completely out of context. It would be like someone opening up the American penal code and saying "My goodness! They lock people away for life! What kind of barbarians are they?" without looking at what led to said locking up.

The Torah endures because, despite its critics, it is a perfect document and that perfection shines through any opposition.

By the way, congratulate me. OfftheD has banned me and declared me the cause of his nervous breakdown. Should I go after Margo next?

jewish philosopher said...

Margo and OTD banned me already. It doesn't take much. I would say about half of atheistic blogs do not allow critical posts.

Anonymous said...

I think that's very interesting, since their reason for "leaving the faith" is because it was constrictive and didn't tolerate oppositing opinions.

I feel bad for OfftheD though. I think he actually has a problem which needs help but his defensiveness will prevent him from getting it.

jewish philosopher said...

In my humble opinion - it's all about sex.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you've been quite clear about that.

Are you basing yourself on the gemara in Sanhedrin, the one that says our ancestors knew avodah zarak was bulls--t but engaged in it because of the sexual freedom it offered?

jewish philosopher said...

I think that whenever people embrace a belief which is obviously absurd, we have the right to investigate what hidden motive is driving them to this belief. For example, if Muslims say the Israeli secret service masterminded the 9/11 attacks, I don't think that we must accept that at face value and assume that he is sincerely convinced by the overwhelming evidence. There is something else going on there. By the same token when an atheist claims that blind chance over a very long time created life on earth, I have to wonder why he believes that.

Based on everything I have heard and read, I would estimate that 95% of Orthodox Jews who have left Judaism since 1960 have done so hoping for better sex.