- The Torah's Divine Origin & Why Moses' Face Shone
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- Question: Is it not possible for the Jews to have
produced the Torah over the course of the Exodus? Couldn't the
Torah have been written in parts over a period of time?
- Mesora: If you ask when
the Torah was written, Rashi answers your question. He says that
Moses received the Torah, commencing with "Genesis",
and concluding with the very event of Moses' acceptance of the
Ten Commandments, and the Written Law together with the Oral
Laws. This makes sense. If you are of the opinion that Moses
received the entire Five Books, this would pose great difficulties:
The Five Books included all events yet to transpire, including
the sins of the Jews, and Moses' responses to God on the Jews'
behalf. What type of honest plea could Moses present, knowing
years in advance what his plea and God's response would be? Knowing
the exact outcome of his prayers, Moses would not really be praying.
Many similar difficulties arise for both the people and Moses,
had they learned all future events. Certainly they would be on
guard so their depicted disasters would be avoided. In that case,
the Torah would be false if they indeed avoided what God said
would in fact happen. If they didn't avoid the Torahs predictions,
then what type of free will did they have? Certainly not one
deserving of punishment. We have an impossible series of events.
- In truth, Moses received the Torah up to the event at Mount
Sinai. As time went on, Moses wrote down more of the Torah in
accordance with God's exact enunciations.
- But, if you ask, "Could the Torah be man made?"
I reply as follows: The people all attested to the miraculous
event of Sinai. There was not one person that doubted it. Moses
said later, (Deut. 4:9) "Guard yourselves and guard your
souls exceedingly, lest you forget the things your eyes saw...",
(Deut. 4:34)"all the signs and wonders which God has performed
for you in Egypt as your eyes have seen", (Deut.
4:35) "You have been demonstrated to know that God
is Elokim, there is no other besides Him", (Deut. 4:36)
"From the heavens He made heard His voice to prove you,
and on land He showed you His great fire and His words you heard
from amidst the fire". If anyone doubted what Moses
said, the Torah would not have been accepted. However, we see
that the nation unanimously accepted all of these statements.
They taught them to their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In turn, these descendants used this reason of unanimous acceptance
of an event, as 100% proof of the event. Unlike all other religions,
the Jews were not asked to accept "beliefs", or to
"believe" fabrications, but Moses repeatedly confirmed
that they all saw a demonstration of God's existence and selection
of Moses as His prophet.
- The only question is how we know that Moses' written Torah
was in fact from God. This was not performed in front of millions
as was Sinai. I believe this is where Moses' "beams of light"
comes into the picture. We read in Exodus 34:29-35, "And
it was when Moses descended from Mount Sinai, and the two Tablets
of Testimony were in the hand of Moses when he descended from
the mountain, and Moses did not know(1)
of the light beaming from his face with His talking to him. Aaron
and all the Children of Israel saw Moses, and behold his faced
beamed with light, and they feared to draw close to him. Moses
called to them and then returned to him Aaron and all the princes
in the congregation, and Moses spoke to them. And afterwards,
all the Children of Israel drew close and he commanded them all
that God spoke on Mount Sinai. And he finished from speaking
with them, and he placed a vail on his face. And when Moses came
before God to speak with Him, he removed the vail until he exited,
and he went out and spoke with the Children of Israel what was
commanded. And the Children of Israel saw Moses' face, that Moses
face beamed light, and Moses replaced the vail on his face until
he came to speak with Him." What is the necessity for God
to make Moses' face shine beams of light?
- I believe this ongoing miracle was enacted to address the
very point you question. Again it says, "And the Children
of Israel saw Moses' face, that Moses face beamed light, and
Moses replaced the vail on his face until he came to speak with
Him." Even after Moses departed from God's presence, Moses
was commanded by God not to replace the vail until the Jews saw
the light beams on his face. This happened each time Moses spoke
with God until he died. (Ibn Ezra, Exod., 34:35) This was to
demonstrate God's continual endorsement of all Moses' words to
the Jews, and that all his writings form God's Torah - not his
own. A continuous miracle on Moses' behalf means God approves
of Moses' actions. Had Moses deviated from God's intended words
of Torah, God would certainly not sanction Moses with any miracle,
allowing Moses to lead the people astray. God understood the
people might suspect a leader of forming his own system. This
notion was dispelled through such an overt, divine endorsement
of Moses. We see the people feared to draw close to Moses, teaching
that this phenomena was not natural, and could only be the product
of the Creator. Only He could suspend laws of nature, creating
such a miracle. Thereby, all the Jews knew that Moses was completely
in line with God's will. Moses wrote only that which God instructed
him to write. The entire Torah is divine. This very fact that
Moses was to stay unveiled, displaying his face lit while communicating
God's commands to the Jews, proves that the light was for the
express purpose of endorsing all of Moses' words as reflecting
- Perhaps light is the form of this endorsement, for the reason
that light - in this case - is merely a reflection. It is not
originating in Moses. Someone's face has no abilitiy to emanate
light beams. So too Moses' teachings are reflecting God's word
exactly - they are not his own thoughts.
- The miracles' structure also teaches us of God's wish that
man respect the Rabbis - the Jews were certain of Moses' relationship
with God. From the very outset, God desired the system of Torah
embody a teacher/student relationship. Moses received the Torah
from God - his Teacher - and passed it to Joshua - his student.
From Joshua, the Torah was transmitted to the elders, and then
to the prophets and then to the men of the Great Assembly, as
stated in the commencement of "Ethics of the Fathers".
This relationship teaches that we must always return to Sinai
to verify what authentic Torah is. Without Rabbinic tradition
and unbroken lineage, we do not have Torah. For this reason,
today, we discount anyone's claim to the authentic Kabbala -
"accepted traditions". No one today can trace Kabbala's
origin - student to teacher - all the way back to Moses.
- All is not written down - all cannot be written down. Words
alone cannot embody God's infinite wisdom. Perhaps this is one
reason we also have an Oral Law. Torah is a system of "derivation".
Through various principles, our Rabbis learned and continue to
derive keen insights, philosophies, and structures of Halacha
- Jewish law. These principles are indispensable tools required
to lead us down the endless path of wisdom where each step of
the journey becomes more exciting. It is a system unknown to
one alien to Talmudic study. It is a science where only intelligence
rules, where solid, unshaken principles lay the foundation for
future insights - where halachik formulations and axioms are
more real than the physical world. The Talmudic scholar is not
a skeptic, where he finds multiple possibilities as acceptable
ends to his studies. No, the Talmudist earnestly digs, searching
for principles and explanations for Torah law which are impregnable,
definitive and exclusive solutions to a given problem. Only upon
discovering the "single answer" is he satisfied. If
he does not find this stability in his results, he is dissatisfied
and continues his search until he does. He is aware that God
's Torah is not based on "maybes", but it is built
on very definite truths. This is why God is termed our "Rock."
He is that Source of all knowledge which is the Unification of
all ideas, where all knowledge is harmonious and complimentary.
All natural sciences too are God-made, reflecting on each other,
and providing greater understanding of our world - also working
with definitive rules. This is what the Torah scholar seeks -
definite, absolute principles explaining God's creation, His
Torah laws, and His justice. The Talmudist knows it exists. His
entire being is compelled to come closer to this truth. This
is how God designed man.
- We must note, without tutelage of a mentor trained in Talmudic
thought and analysis, one has little or no chance of truly understanding
the vast difference between a book,....and the unique Torah system.
(1) "Moses did not know of the light beaming from his face
with His talking to him" teaches that this miracle was not
for Moses, but for the Jews. They were in need of proof of God's
sustained endorsement of Moses. Moses had no need for this light.
- (2) The point in time when God enacted this miracle of Moses'
beams of light supports our theory. This miracle was initiated
upon Moses' receipt of the Torah, thereby teaching that the light
was to support Moses' mission of successfully transmitting a