The Authenticity of the Torah

Rabbi Baruch Rubanowitz

Kollel Yad Shaul

Moses alone shall approach G-d; the others shall not come near, nor shall the people go up with him.” (Exodus 24:2)

וְנִגַּשׁ מֹשֶׁה לְבַדּוֹ אֶל ה' וְהֵם לֹא יִגָּשׁוּ וְהָעָם לֹא יַעֲלוּ עִמּוֹ. (שמות כד:ב)

The narrative in the Torah records that Moshe ascended alone to the top of Har Sinai and claimed to have received a message for humanity from a divine being. Moshe, a mortal man, is the primary link between humanity and Hashem.

Why should we trust him?

Moshe urged us to change our lifestyle and our priorities, to focus our goals on Hashem’s interests rather than our own. That requires an enormous amount of confidence.

How do we really know that it’s all true? Even if Moshe’s generation was convinced at the time, what evidence is there today that is compelling enough for us to adopt a Torah-true life?

The impetus for being part of Torah Judaism should not be a desire to have access to a wonderful culture, a pleasant community and a high standard of living. Torah Judaism should be adopted because it is true, or at least because it might be true. All those who approach Judaism on that basis have, or should have, asked themselves the above questions.

This short essay will not offer prepared, succinctly expressed answers to the questions. Rather, its purpose is to encourage the reader to approach Judaism with the attitude on which the questions are based: namely, that our Torah should be lived because it is true, and I am a truth seeker. Any answer you come up with should not be merely academic. It should be a truism that you identify with. It should sit well with you and have become one of the truths that you recognize, know and believe. Even if you have come to this awareness in the past, it is worth revisiting again. If it was true once, it will be revealed as true again. Attempt to earnestly discover the truth with intellectual honesty and without bias, and you will have reaffirmed your convictions or adopted a truth to live by. To live by the truth is to live an authentic life.

Should you affirm your belief in the authenticity of our Torah, it will transform all of your behaviour which is consistent with the directives of Torah to a higher level, one more cherished and valued by Hashem.

This is a wonderful exercise to explore anytime, but especially on Shavuos. Hashem is confident that all people have the capacity to discover the truth about the transmission of a message from an invisible deity to humanity.

What is your answer? Should we trust Moshe? Was there a transmission? What evidence do you base that on?

Unsure? Take advantage of all of the resources available to explore more. If Hashem did transmit a message, He would probably want you to probe further.

©2019 by The Office of The Chief Rabbi