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Sunday, July 4, 2010

An Eye-Opening Moment

I read some Kugel last night and then it hit me: The Torah does not for one pasuk claim that God was its author or that it was inspired by anybody. For someone who was indoctrinated into the belief that God directly wrote / dictated every single verse of the Torah, this is totally new information.

Actually, the evidence seems to be on the contrary: the very first pasuk suggests already that it was written by someone not God as the creation story is written in the third person:

"In the beginning, God created heaven and earth."

Or, in the 'original':

בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ

Notice that it says "God created" and not "I created"!

To which I can only say: "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things from your Torah"!

16 comments:

  1. Whatever. The point is: Is the Torah narrative true or not?

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  2. I always wondered what led people to make that assumption.

    This realization was basically the end of belief in TMS for me.

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  3. That's an interesting thought, yet I am not sure that it would logically have to be concluded because G-d doesn't say, I created, that this would automatically disprove divine authorship. Further, there are verses that do state, for example, I am the Lord your G-d... Would one thus argue simply that there are x number of verses actually from G-d in the first person but all the rest, the majority, are not?

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  4. >Further, there are verses that do state, for example, I am the Lord your G-d.

    Are you kidding? All those verses where God is speaking are preceded by "And God spoke" or "and God said" which are like big quotation marks.

    I guess according to your logic Tom Sawyer wrote Tom Sawyer because he speaks quite a lot in it.

    Would one thus argue simply that there are x number of sentences actually from Tom Sawyer in the first person but all the rest, the majority, are not?

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  5. It's still plausible God wrote in third person, or instructed Moses to write it in this way. And Moses obviously didn't write it all, as some Tannaic opinions would acknowledge.
    Nevertheless, I've read this book, and it was an eye opener. Starting with the four assumptions, which you realize are baseless. Then the way he disintegrates many chapters of the Bible it becomes plain how it all developed and adopted, including YHWH Himself. It's compelling. Interesting trivia, Kugel himself claims he is not only a believer, but observant.

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  6. JP: 'Whatever'?!? Are you just denying the 8th principle of Maimonides???

    Let me refresh your mind:

    Principle VIII. That the Torah is from heaven [God]

    And this is that you believe that all of this Torah that was given by Moses our teacher, peace be upon him, THAT IT IS ALL FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD. Meaning that it was received by him entirely from God. And it is not known how Moses received it except by Moses himself, peace be upon him, that it came to him. That he was like a stenographer that you read to him and he writes all that is told to him: all the events and dates, the stories, and all the commandments. There is no difference between “And the sons of Cham were Kush, and Mitzraim, and his wife was Mehatbe’el” and “Timnah was his concubine” and “I am Hashem your God” and “Hear Israel [Hashem your God, Hashem is one]” for it was all given by God. And it is all Hashem’s perfect Torah; pure, holy, and true. And he who says that these verses or stories, Moses made them up, he is a denier of our sages and prophets worse than all other types of deniers [form of heretic] for he thinks that what is in the Torah is from man’s flawed heart and the questions and statements and the dates and stories are of no value for they are from Moses Rabbeinu, peace be upon him. And this area is that he believes the Torah is not from heaven. And on this our sages of blessed memory said, “he who believes that the Torah is from heaven except this verse that God did not say it but rather Moses himself did [he is a denier of all the Torah].” And this that God spoke this and that, each and every statement in the Torah, is from God and it is full of wisdom (each statement) and benefit to those who understand them. And its depth of knowledge is greater than all of the land and wider than all the seas and a person can only go in the path of David, the anointed of the God of Jacob who prayed and said “Open my eyes so that I may glance upon the wonders of Your Torah” (Psalms 119). And similarly the explanation of the Torah was also received from God and this is what we use today to know the appearance and structure of the sukka and the lulav and the shofar, tzitzis, tefillin and their usage.

    AND ALL THIS GOD SAID TO MOSE AND MOSES TOLD TO US. And he is trustworthy in his role as the messenger and the verse that teaches of this fundamental is what is written (Numbers 16) “And Moses said, with this shall you know that Hashem sent me to do all these actions (wonders) for they are not from my heart.”

    Are you on your way to become a heretic, JP? :)

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  7. Yeah, the Torah itself says Moses got the ten commandments at Sinai. Bizarre how many people think Moses wrote it, let alone as dictated by God at Sinai.

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  8. For a more accurate / realistic version of Maimonidies 8th see here:

    The Rambam's 8th Principle According to R' Yaakov Weinberg

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  9. I don't understand your point Jewish Atheist. Please can you explain? To me, and I have struggled with being an orthodox jew since I was first taught it aged 3, the fact that an egotistical wrote this rule book makes so much sense to me (and explain my disconnect). This site is a real treat for me. I had convinced myself that I will wear the MO gard, practice as little as possible to keep up appearanced but under no circumstances would I read up any more about it cos franly i don;t give a crap. But this site, andespecially that youtube translated clip fromn that woman who I have fallen a little in love with. Whats being said is connecting to me on some deep level that I don't understand (would love to hear from u exactly what she's all about - whats her school of thought?)

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  10. Hi LFS, I think JA meant to say that if Moses wrote it, why does it say that he 'received' it? You either author it or not.

    BTW: Thanks for your comments on this site and the translated clip; will try to translate any future clips and keep you posted!

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  11. Thanks! But who is she?? I'm intrigued

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  12. She is a lady originally from Israel, now living in Argentina, married to a non-Jew and born secular. Anything else you would like to know? :)

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  13. I guess i should have been more specific! What's her school of thought, her theory, that youtube clip seemed to me to be past of something a lot bigger, some thesis or school of thought that I'm not familiar with and want to know more about!

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  14. Most of her stuff comes from www.daatemet.org.il. Some things were discussed directly with its director, Yaron Yadan (formerly frum).

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  15. Very interesting. What about this idea?:

    The scriptures are the testimony of those who have walked with/seen/encountered the living God. They are inspired, but this in no way denies the human aspect of the authorship, which includes style as well as certain aspects of their worldview (such as their scientific perceptions). It also does not deny the Divine role. However, God did not actually 'write' anything. People did, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.

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  16. Anonymous: Then you are apikores for denying TMS lol.

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