Is the Torah true?
I hear this question all the time. How do you know that these stories are real?
And my answer is always the same: I actually don’t know.
But I do know that the Torah is different than any other book.
And this is why. The written history in ancient times had one main purpose: to glorify and to describe the heroism, the wonders, and the plots of kings, princes, and high priests.
Among the Egyptians, the Assyrians, or the Babylonians the writer was paid to write what the ruler told him to write. The great second Ramesses, for example, has always won all his wars, according to Scripture, which historically was absolutely not true.
And even today, there are still some countries like North Korea that have the same practice.
But the biblical text was written by a brave man, who decided to pass on to future generations the flaws of his forefathers, emphasizing their challenges, their weaknesses, their sins, and their mistakes.
The Torah doesn’t hesitate to share with us how Abraham let his wife be with another man in the court of the king of Egypt;
This is how we about Moshe's complex relationship with Zipporah and their divorce;
In the book of Samuel, we read about the tragedy of Saul, Shaul, the first Jewish king who committed suicide after many difficult years of madness and jealousy.
We are shocked by the prophet Nathan's criticism of David, after the terrible sin with Batsheva.
We learn about the corruption of Eli’s sons; The cruelty of Joseph’s brothers.
The crooks of Jacob and his mother Rebecca against Esau and father Isaac; The evil deed that the sons of Jacob did to their brother Joseph; The sins of Moses in the wilderness; The corruption of the sons of the high priest Ali and of the sons of the great prophet Samuel;
How hundreds of thousands of Hebrew slaves who came out of Egypt chose the Idolatry over their God who redeemed them.
We take the good and the bad in the history of fathers and our mothers.
The people who wrote these stories were not manipulative writers of anyone.
Those who wrote these things were wise and brave people who did not bow their heads before kings
So yes, sometimes we struggle to understand the choices our ancient fathers and mothers made. But that’s the magic of the Tanach. Precisely because these flaws and not perfect characters, emphasize the truth and authenticity of this book, and it is also its greatness. From the rough truth, which our ancestors passed down to us, much can be learned. From the lies passed down to by the kings of Egypt or, Moab or Sidon - almost nothing can be learned except that he was a king, and he paid to write his memories.
And this is why we need to be happy with our Torah. That we have an important, helpful, inspiring, exciting, amazing, and sometimes sad and depressing, book in our hands. That we kept the legacy of our ancestors and mothers. A real book. A book for life.
The good and the bad in the history of the reign of Saul, David, and Solomon and all their descendants, including acts of profanity, treachery, and flattery of priests, and nonsense of great prophets - were not manipulative court scribes of anyone. Those who wrote these things were wise and brave people who did not bow their heads before kings and swindlers and believed that it was no more important than to pass on to future generations of their descendants the truth as it was, without toying and without smearing and forging.
התורה היא סיפור של אנשים אמיתיים.
היא מספרת לנו על האבות שלנו, על האלים המיתולוגיים שלנו, או על דמויות נטולות פגם שהתרחשו בדמיונם של כותבי המיתולוגיות.
היא מספרת לנו על אנשים עם אתגרים, עם חולשות, עם משברים, עם נפילות.
היא מספרת בכאב על יחסיו המורכבים של משה עם אשתו ציפורה, זוג שהתגרש.
על חולשותיו של שלמה המלך לנשים.
על התאבדותו הטראגית של שאול המלך והטירוף שאחז בו בשנותיו האחרונות.
על הפשע שפשעו אחי יוסף כלפי יוסף וכלפי אביהם.
על מאות אלפי עברים שיצאו ממצאים שראו את כל הניסים שבעולם ועדיין הפנו עורף.
על התוכחה שהעניק נתן הנביא לדויד מלכנו הנערץ, וגם על רגעיו האחרונים בהם שכב בחיקה של אבישג השונמית ונשאר קר.
ב- 3 מקרים שונים מספרת לנו התורה כיצד אברהם ויצחק ביקשו מנשותיהם "אמרי נא אחותי את למען ייטב לי בעבורך".
על ההבטחה הנוראית שהבטיח יפתח שהובילה להריגת ביתו.
על ביתור גופת הפילגש בגבעה וחלוקתה בכל הארץ.
אלה סיפורים קשים, ואולי גם הסיבה מדוע יש יהודים שמעדיפים להימנע מלימוד תנ"ך.