Torah/Sinaic Authenticity & "Acceptable" Religions
(Reader's response to Judaism's position that the Torah is true, and Revelation at Sinai is proven fact.)
Reader: You could write a history of Washington only because many others, alive during Washington's time, wrote about him. Documents from his time exist and can serve as sources for current-day historians. Also, Washington himself left behind a record of much of what he did. Contrast this with the Torah, which was written centuries after the last alleged eyewitness died. There is no evidence that records of the Sinai events written during their occurrence ever existed. No other historical sources exist to verify the Torah's account. The writers of the Torah themselves do not claim to be eyewitnesses.
Mesora: (I preempt my response by stating that the reasoning used herein is based primarily on a class by a Rabbi, who explained the rationale underlying the proof of G-d's Revelation at Sinai, and history in general.)
The date an account is written plays no role in the veracity of the story documented. We confirm historical truths based on the presence of two elements; 1) simple phenomena, and 2) masses of eye witnesses. I will explain. Simple phenomena remove ignorance on the part of the witnesses, as their is no room for error in what they perceived. At Sinai, the Jews saw a mountain on fire and heard words emanating from the fire. People clearly recognize these three things, i.e., fire, mountains and words. We don't suggest they erred about their perception. And masses attesting unanimously to one event removes all possibility of fabrication. Mass conspiracy is impossible, as masses cannot share a common motive to lie. Therefore, ignorance and fabrication are the only two means by which history may be transmitted in a corrupt form: Ignorance is a "careless" error, while fabrication is a "purposeful" error. There are no other possibilities. In all of his activities, man functions either carelessly, or purposefully. Once we demonstrate that in any event, the phenomena are easily apprehended, and that there were masses, the story must be true. We have removed the only two possibilities that this story may be false. We use this method to prove and disprove all historical records.
If I were to write down George Washington's presidency accurately, today, my delay in documenting his existence and position does not compromise the truths of which I write. The only way any historical account is transmitted identically by masses, is if it truly happened.
Your primary error is in your assumption that the Torah was not written until years later. The Rabbis - the recipients of the Torah - unanimously agree to have it as a transmitted truth that the Torah was written by Moses himself, and at the precise time of the events. The Torah's authorship, its writing by Moses, and the miraculous revelation at Sinai, was accepted and attended by 2.5 million people respectively. Additional "sources" as you refer, are unnecessary. In fact, additional sources are impossible, as the event was witnessed by ONE source - the Jews at Sinai. When one has absolute "proof", already based on unanimous corroboration, additional corroboration is of no use. Once an event is proven true 100%, you cannot increase that 100%! Understand how corroboration functions: in the absence of absolute proof, (i.e, 100% corroboration) partial corroboration removes a 'quantity' of doubt. When in conflict with an opposing story, events under examination carry doubt to their veracity. But 100% corroboration equates to absolute proof.
Another point: You say, "Washington left behind a record." You accept this fact, with no qualification. You have not proven that these records are Washington's. Don't you need to prove this before using it as part of another argument? By what method do you "prove" such claims? You must admit to the reasoning quoted.
Reader: You mentioned in other articles that we accept as truth such things as the existence of Caesar without a great deal of corroboration. Well, there is, in fact, much to corroborate Caesar's existence, not just one, biased, source. Even if there weren't, believing in Caesar's existence is no great stretch; it was very typical in history for empires to exist, and for these empires to have emperors. It is not typical for a supernatural being to present Himself to humans and give them the Truth of existence.
Mesora: This is not true. Caesar's existence and reign are verified in the same way.
You make two errors: 1) that one large group of Jews is "biased". Our method discounts your argument; 2) accepting natural law is no "easier" than accepting miracles, once you understand the truth of G-d, proven by Sinai, and you understand His abilities. Miracles are no more of a problem to prove than natural laws. Both, miracles, and natural laws must have a Designer. Before Creation, there were no natural laws, as there was yet no thing called "nature". The Designer of the universe is not bound by the natural laws that He creates, and hence, His abilities include His creation of both. "Miracles" are nothing other than the suspension of natural laws. If G-d can create natural law, this means that He determined these laws to exist, and also determined when and where they are applied. Both miracles and natural law are creations of the Creator. The proof of Sinai teaches that there is a Creator of the universe. Only the Creator can be responsible for intelligent words emanating from fire. All created life would perish in fire, let alone retain the ability to speak intelligently when engulfed in flames.
Reader: You may have heard the expression "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." If I claimed to be an American citizen and a practicing attorney, I would not need a great deal of proof to substantiate this, since Americans and lawyers are very common in our experience and the claim to be one is "ordinary". However, if I claimed to be the ambassador of the Beta Reticulan Radish People with an urgent message for humanity, you may want more proof to substantiate my claim than my statement that that is who I am because my claim would be "extraordinary." This is not to trivialize what happened at Sinai but it also is an "extraordinary" claim and must, therefore, require extraordinary proof, even more than my example, because, as you have pointed out, accepting this "claim" would require one to change his life! The "saying it is so" of a document first written centuries after the events' alleged occurrence and after the last alleged eyewitnesses died cannot serve as such required proof. Is this not why most experts on the Bible doubt the literal occurrence of the Sinai events and some go so far as to say that it is legend?
Mesora: There is no such thing as "extraordinary proof" as you suggest. An event is either proven or not, and there is one litmus test; the reasoning we have already described above. The affect a proof may have on my life (i.e., my acceptance of a Torah lifestyle) plays no role in the veracity of the event. That which eventuates as a result of my belief, cannot mitigate the process used in proving the belief. For example, if mixing two chemicals produces a new color in the compound, a color I dislike, I cannot deny that this mixture produced this color, due to my subsequent dislike of the color. So too is our case. If Sinai is proven - regardless of how I must now live in light of its proof - then Sinai is proven. Period. Personal considerations cannot compromise an accurate method of proving events.
Regarding Bible critics, I suggest that just as you would refrain from accepting a child's theories on astrophysics, refrain from critics who also have no comprehension of what they discuss. The Torah is not a book to be 'read', but a deep and precisely designed system which may only be understood by one trained in its method of thought, using the principles of derivation received by Moses from G-d at Sinai. Without instruction and these interpretive tools, Bible critics know as much about Torah as the child knows about astrophysics.
Reader: If G-d's purpose for Judaism is to be the one and only revelation of Truth, then He has failed because so few people are following it, unless you have a better explanation for why so few people are following the Truth. Do you think it is important to G-d to have at least the majority of people knowing the Truth, or do you think He doesn't care at all for His creatures except for those few of us lucky enough to be born Jewish? I suppose it's possible that G-d could actually care only about Jews, but, if that's so, then He is nothing more than a tribal G-d, not the G-d of the Universe and all humanity.
I agree that no matter how well the Truth is presented, there will always be some people so perverse or ignorant that they will refuse to accept it, just like you will still find some people who seriously believe that the Earth is flat and criminals will exist in even the most just and prosperous of societies. But such people are a tiny minority. If Judaism were the only true religion, then most human beings would be Jews. Since they are not, it must mean either that Truth is contained in more than one religion or that G-d doesn't care that most of His creatures are following falsehood.
Mesora: You make quite a leap here, and with no reason. You haughtily claim G-d has failed. You are not careful to talk about G-d, the Creator of the universe (yourself included) with the awe due him? Do you not even fear His ability to punish one who opens his mouth in such a way?
Even if only a handful of people are following the right life, we do not say that the majority of wrongdoers are no longer wrong, as they outnumber others. We do not say Judaism is false, if it is followed by a minority of Earth's population. Would you say Einstein's theories are false, since the majority cannot fathom his words? Is it at all possible that the One who created Einstein's mind, is of a higher intelligence? Additionally, does not "free will" demand that each individual select his path in life? that many will choose corruption? that this alone explains why many fail to observe Judaism?
But think about your words, "He has failed because so few people are following it." Let's consider a scenario: 99% of the Earth follows Judaism. In this case, you would say G-d has not failed and Judaism is the singular truth. But what if that 99% declined to 1%....how does this affect the truth of Judaism, or of G-d's desire that man follow Judaism? It is the same Judaism that was followed by 99% of the world's population! Judaism, in this case (and always) did not change. The number of adherents plays no role in Judaism's truth as the one religion given by G-d.
You write, "...or do you think He doesn't care at all for His creatures except for those few of us lucky enough to be born Jewish?" One is not "lucky to be born Jewish", if he lives his life poorly. Additionally, Adam, Noah, Shem, Yaphet, and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not Jewish, yet G-d loved them.
I agree with your underlying sentiment, that if Torah is the only truth, that it is G-d's will that as many as possible follow it. Eventually, all people will recognize their Creator, and follow Him. Zecharya 14:9 states, "And it will be, G-d will be the King of the entire Earth, on that day, it will be (that) G-d will be one, and His name will be one." This means that acceptance of G-d by the entire world is a goal, but it need not take place throughout history, but only ultimately. This eventuality, and not an eternal acceptance is due to two factors: 1) man's free will to be corrupt, 2) G-d's mercy on man to ultimately bring about undeniable proof to those who are corrupt.
Why did G-d did not desire the forthcoming Messianic "proof for all nations" to take place earlier? That, we answer, is G-d's knowledge. We cannot know His ways. But we learn that G-d's mercy demands the ultimate removal for all other nations to deny Him, upon Messiah's arrival.
Reader: If we can't prove that only Judaism is true because of what I said in #1, then faith is required to accept it. If faith is the basis of a religion, then it is impossible to know objectively what theological claims are true. The only way to attempt to distinguish truth from falsehood when it comes to religions is to look at their moral and ethical codes to see how the behavior that is commanded of the faithful complies with the religion's ideals. Since the codes of all religions are similar, then some Truth must exist in them. And no, not all religions "plagiarized" from Judaism. Hinduism and Buddhism forbid stealing even though there is no direct connection between them and Judaism. Once again, I ask that you accept these comments as a genuine attempt to discover Truth.- Sincerely, H.F.
Mesora: We have shown that Sinai proves Judaism to be the only G-d given law, but I will address your other concerns. You err gravely in that you feel a distortion of G-d's word ("truth" exists in other religions) to be acceptable. You err when you say there is good in other religions, as they too include moral codes, such as prohibiting stealing. Yes, stealing is corrupt, but Christianity does not include "truth" because it too includes stealing as a prohibition. One is involved in perfection, not because he doesn't steal, but because he realizes this as G-d's word, G-d's Torah word.
How do you understand this phrase, "Abstention from morality is a good"? My approach to dissecting this phrase is to first ask, "what is 'morality'? Who determines morality? Is killing an evil, a good, or at times, can it be either? This can only be determined by the One who gave life, i.e., G-d. Now that I have learned the proof that G-d gave only one religion, I consult that book alone to determine morality. My next step is to see what else G-d defines as truth. G-d also says not to alter the Torah - at all. Additionally, He said the event of Sinai is a one-time event. A mass revelation will not occur again. I summarize this information and realize that the Torah is the only religion, that it can not be altered, and that G-d will never give another religion. This makes perfect sense, as G-d knew the future, and all of man's eventual corruption, and nonetheless, He is 'content' that His Torah is the perfect and complete system, never to be altered. Thereby, I know all other religions are false. And even if they contain prohibitions which are identical to those in the Torah, the truth is - they are not identical. What do I mean?
As I said a few sentences back, one is involved in perfection, not because he doesn't steal, but because he realizes this as G-d's word,...G-d's Torah word. Abstention from stealing, when performed not as a Torah law, fails to bring one closer to G-d. This person now becomes closer to Jesus, if he performs it as Jesus' word. Hence, his act of not stealing is in fact, pure corruption. He continues in his folly to deify a human, while denying the proof of Sinai. He denies G-d's words, already proven thousands of years ago.
An act is not judged a good, based solely on its physical similarity to the Torah's command. Unless one performs actions, as part of his adherence to Torah, he fails to perfect himself. Man is essentially his mind. His actions are secondary. We must look at one's intent when judging his actions. Following any religion aside from Judaism is a distortion of the single religion given by G-d. It makes no difference if one "physically" mimics Torah laws. As long as one deviates an iota from the Torah, and certainly when he invents new religions, he is not following G-d.