Wednesday, July 3, 2013

More Flawed Logic

What subject can we talk about, that we can grasp the basic information of the text; but, the subject is so deep that, it is beyond human comprehension?  You guessed it: Torah.  Hashem gave us the Torah on Mount Sinai as a string of letters, 304,805 letters to be exact.  Moses put the spaces to give up the basic wording that we have used for 3325 years.  Hashem also gave us all the information of the Oral Torah, the Talmud, to explain the deep concepts of the written Torah.  Hashem also gave us all the prophecy of everything that would happen in this world.  Hashem also gave us the Zohar information of every mystical concept of this world.  But, Hashem, Who is of infinite intelligence (a concept beyond our grasp), gave us the Torah which has everything as a genetic code of the entire universe (everyone who ever lived, is alive and who will live, with infinite detail), every animal, every plant, every rock, every star, nebula, galaxy, planet, every word ever spoken, every meal ever eaten, every piece of clothing ever worn, every living establishment, every piece of furniture, appliance, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.  That means that all of science and mathematics is in the Torah.  How about Einstein (just a little sample – not complete by any means)?

There is nothing missing; if something is, it doesn't exist.  So if we have to study science for decades in order to grasp all these concepts that are beyond our flawed human comprehension, how is it that everyone knows the answers to Torah questions that are sometime infinitely further out of our grasp than any scientific principle?  Let us analyze.

Many of us went to a Sunday school, as an example, and at the age of 5 we heard for the first time the Bible stories – Adam and Eve in the garden, Noah and the ark, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s escapades and, of course the story of the Exodus (which we know well from the movie versions that have been made – extremely inaccurate).  We grow up, and by the time we are 20 or 30 years old, we are still stuck with the stories we learned at age 5.  Most people see the Torah at the Peshat level (a word which came to mean the plain, literal meaning of a text) and go no further.  If I asked someone to tell me about Quantum Physics or corporate law or differential equations or brain surgery (that’s enough – we get the point), most would answer “Oh, I’ve never studied those subjects.”  But, if I ask them questions about the Torah or the Bible, everyone would have an opinion.  Even worse they would tell me: “I'm skeptical as to whether that really happened.”  To know that the Torah and even all of Jewish Scriptures are so deep and even beyond comprehension does not compute -- after all “I read it once and know all the 5 year level Bible stories.”
I know that 10 lifetimes of Torah study would only scratch the surface of what the deeper meaning is.  What is even worse is we study in English which is Peshat personified.  The true, deeper meaning can only come from the mystical and miraculous letters of Hebrew.  We are told in Talmud that we must study a subject 101 times before we can begin to understand its true meaning.
There are no wasted words or even wasted letters in the Torah.  The 22 Hebrew letters of the alphabet are basically consonants.  Vowel sounds are added by symbols beneath the letter which means that every word has several meanings by just changing the symbols.  The Torah has no symbols beneath the letters so a variety of translations are possible.  Sometimes the hidden message of a word would come from pronouncing the word differently.  Examples to this could fill volumes but for obvious time and bandwidth constraints (that’s web and computer talk) here’s a good one:

The story of Abraham taking his son Isaac to the altar, as Hashem commanded, includes a very interesting statement that Abraham tells his servant Eliezer and Ishmael, who accompanied them to the foot of the mountain where the altar was.  He told them “You stay here with the donkey and I and the boy will go to that place.”  With the donkey?  No wasted words in the Torah?  The words in Hebrew for “with the donkey” are “eim hachamor” (ch is the guttural sound not available in English).  If I changed the vowel sounds under those words, not the spelling, (remember there are no symbols for vowels in the Torah) and pronounce it “am hachomaer” the translation changes to “a people of materialism.”  Abraham is saying a very profound statement that you are physical, materialistic beings of this world while he and his son are spiritual beings.  To complete the thought, Abraham says “I and the boy will go to that place.” The Hebrew word in the verse being translated as “place” is actually one of Hashem’s names which solidifies the idea of Abraham and Isaac approaching the spiritual.
Another type of coded message can be exemplified using the very famous verse of “An eye for an eye” – we all have heard that one.  Is it really telling us that by law (which the Torah accurately guides us), if someone were to damage someone’s eye or any other bodily damage (may Hashem protect us from such horror), that we can just reciprocate likewise?  That sounds like the literal meaning.  The actual translation is more accurately “an eye below, or substituted, by an eye.”  The message is: the three Hebrew letters for the word eye are in the alphabet below three Hebrew letters that spell the Hebrew word for money.  In other words it is hinted in the translation to substitute the letters according to the alphabet and you will see what the law is.  Physical damage is subject to monetary compensation.  This is very specifically stated in the extensive discussion in the Talmud.  You can't get the true information from the literal meaning, you must have a very deep insight into the Hebrew translation (not included in the 5 year old Bible stories).

One more example, that shows how, by putting the letters together (as Hashem gave us the text) and making new spaces, one can gain insight into the meaning, or even see prophecy.  In the book of Numbers (in Parshas Eikev), Moses is told by Hashem that “you are not getting this land because of your righteousness, but because of their wickedness.”  The paragraph ends off with the famous statement “you are a stiff-necked people.”  If you look at the Hebrew of that expression, remove the spaces and put in new ones you see the name “Arafat” appears.  Wickedness personified and a very prophetic message for our time.

You may ask: How am I to learn what Hashem wants from me if I can’t fully understand His instructions?  He let us know in the Torah that throughout the ages the great Rabbis would give us the codification of His law and the interpretation that would bring us up to modern times.  I word it that way since there are always those who ask: How do I know all my obligations pertaining to modern situations: electricity, telephones, cars, lights, etc.  Obviously, the scriptures written thousands of years ago cannot be interpreted for today’s world.  Or could it?  The answer is the bottom line of what I getting at in this blog post.  The study of Torah is not to find out what we need to do to serve Hashem, it is to try to understand all that He has told us and to get a much better understanding of this world and the life on it.  The instructions that we must follow has been codified in the Shulchan Aruch, the Mishnah Berurah, many volumes of Halacha-made-easy books from the Rabbis of today (Gedolim), etc.  I am not giving a class here on how to fulfill your obligations to Hashem – for that you need competent Torah scholars with which to study.  My goal here is strictly to give you confidence that good information is available and that you need not study Torah to figure out what to do (nor are most of us capable of doing so).  My overall point is that Torah is the most complicated subject in the world since it entails everything in this world.  For us to try to interpret its message or even worse to try to force our opinion on others, is counter-productive and, in most cases, dangerous.  You may ask: Isn't that what I am doing on this blog?  The answer is "no," I am encouraging everyone to study (in person) with a very competent source and to live Torah as we should.  I have said: Don't believe anything that I say since discovery on your own is far more exciting and internalizing.

The overall message is if you don't believe that you must follow Hashem’s ways, you are throwing it all away – happiness, success, goodness, prosperity, love for your family, everything for a tremendous future (forever and ever).  This is all guaranteed in writing from the One Who created you and the world that you live in.  Don't argue with success and don’t throw it all away because you used your flawed human logic and think that you know better.  Hashem was not waiting for any of us to come along to figure out His Torah.  We have thousands of years of brilliance to refer to and see exactly what Hashem wants from us.  Study to learn but not to figure out the meaning – none of us are intuitive enough to do so and it is not necessary – it has already been done for us.  Hopefully, you read yesterday's post on a simple subject of science, and can now compare it to the infinitely more complicated subject of Torah.  Hopefully, you have more perspective to not stumble on the world's most difficult subject, Torah, using flawed logic.  Instead study it with great excitement and expectation and enjoy its enormous benefits.

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