Joel Hoffman
Rabbi, Teacher, Columnist

Who wrote the Torah?

The foundation of Judaism is the teaching that God dictated the Torah to Moses 3,300+ years ago during the forty years that the Jewish people were in the Sinai Desert after leaving Egypt.  But is it possible to prove that this is true?  The answer is yes, because the Torah (as well as the Talmud) makes several dozen scientific claims, guarantees, and historical predictions that a human author could never make, and only a Divine author could.  Below are just three well-known examples:

The first example: The Torah states that in order for an animal to be Kosher it has to have split hooves and chew its cud. The Torah goes on to warn that there are three animals which chew its cud but do not have split hooves—which are the camel, hyrax, and hare–and there is one animal which has split hooves but does not chew its cud which is the pig (Leviticus, chapter 11).  What is amazing is that zoologists have identified over 5,400 different species of animals that were not known to humans 3,300 years ago and they have not found any animal that has one characteristic but not the other, other than the four the Torah identified 3,300+ years ago.

The second example: The Torah instructs that on each of the three Pilgrimage festivals–-which are Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot-–every male should go to Jerusalem, thus leaving the country’s borders and their wives and children unprotected, but not to worry, because the enemy will never attack during one of these festivals (Numbers, chapter 34).  In the 410 years that the First Temple stood, and in the 420 years that the Second Temple stood [the later was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE], there is no record of any of Israel’s enemies ever attacking during one of the Pilgrimage festivals.

The third example: Torah instructs the Jewish people to let the land rest every seventh year—which means not to plant it.  This Mitzvah is called Shemitah.  But again, not to worry, because God will make sure that the harvest of the sixth year will be a bumper crop so there will be enough food for the sixth year, the seventh year, as well as into the first year of the next 7-year cycle until that year’s crop is harvested (Leviticus, chapter 25).

No one making up a religion would ever dare include these latter two commandments with such a guarantee because all it would take is the promise not coming to fruition one time to cast doubt on the religion. Only a Divine author could fulfill these guarantees, and has!

After learning the above, a logical consequence for an intellectually honest person realizing that the Torah “could” actually be from God is to spend time seriously exploring Judaism. The websites aish.com and chabad.org have scores of essays on how Judaism can enhance one’s life, as well as on nearly every topic in Judaism.

Thousands of years ago God offered every nation the Torah and in each case they asked God “What’s written in it?” However, when God offered the Jewish people the Torah their response was Na’aseh v’nishmah—”we will do and then we will learn/understand.”  Fast forward to today, this is still the ideal model to use when one explores the relevancy of Judaism as an adult. To really understand Judaism, one needs to concurrently engage in doing the Torah’s commandments which are called Mitzvah’s.

A few quick Mitzvah’s to start with include saying the Shema every morning and evening, putting a coin in a Tzedakah box every day, and for women to light Shabbat candles every Friday afternoon (18 minutes before Sundown).  After a short while of engaging in studying about Judaism and in regularly doing a few Mitzvah’s it’ll become obvious who wrote the Torah.

For those who do not take a Na’aseh v’nishmah approach (the combined “learn” and “do” approach) to exploring their Jewish heritage, they are not being intellectually honest. Deep down they are afraid of finding out the Torah may indeed be the ultimate Truth and should be observed.  Thus, not more driving to their favorite a non-kosher restaurant on Shabbat.  One ultimately knows in their soul that by doing Na’aseh v’nishmah it will lead one to realize the Truth and one will come to experience spiritual bliss.  Be honest with yourself, go learn more about Judaism and also do a Mitzvah.

About the Author
Rabbi Joel E. Hoffman is a special education teacher for his "day job," and an outreach rabbi in his free-time. www.birthrightjudaism.com
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