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How Much Torah Was Actually Received at Sinai?
By Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright © 2013 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.
Religion claims that the entire Torah was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Yet, rationally speaking, this cannot be literally true!
The episode recording the giving of the commandments, at Mt. Sinai, is written in Exodus 20. Following this chapter, there are still many other chapters to Exodus, and the Torah continues with the complete books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The events recorded in them would not come to pass for days, week, and years after Sinai.
How could what the Torah records as having occurring after Sinai been recorded and handed down, in its present form, prior to the events occurring? This would preclude human free will and choice, and the violation of these violates the very foundation of Torah.
If we accept as religious fact that the entire Torah was received on Mt. Sinai then we have to ask the pertinent question, exactly what was it that was received at that time, that is considered to be “the whole” of the Torah?
If it is not the stories of the Torah that came down on Sinai, then maybe it was the laws themselves. This is, after all, what is fundamental to religion. Everyone today can read in Exodus the episode on Mt Sinai, and the giving of the Ten Commandments. Yet, the Sages of Israel are emphatic to emphasize that it was not just the Ten Commandments that were received at that time. So vital was this message that the Sages changed an ancient Israelite tradition of daily reciting the Ten Commandments as part of the Shema Yisrael prayer, specifically to prevent the public from falsely believing that it was only the Ten Commandments and not the entire 613 that came from Sinai.
If we say then that all the laws came down on Sinai, and the historical episodes were recorded later, then again, we must ask, in what format were the original laws received, prior to their present format in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy?
What we are left with is a mystery, one which no scholar or prophet can answer with finality. While many opinions may be offered, and many ideas contemplated, none of these can ever be proved to be historical fact. We are left with mystery. And, the mystery is, what exactly was the form of the Torah that Moses received on Mt Sinai?
The medieval Spanish rabbi/sage Maimonides describes the giving of Torah at Sinai in a most unique way. He states, based upon scriptural understandings, that at Sinai, the people of Israel heard God's Voice speaking directly into their minds, without the Voice forming definitive words of speech. Essentially, there was a definitive difference between the Voice of God, that was seen, and the Word of God, that was heard.
The text seems to imply that the Torah was actually imprinted directly onto the Israelite soul. In modern terms we would say that the Torah was programmed directly into the collective unconscious of national mind. Torah was thus essentially received by ,what today, we would call telepathy.
This is how Maimonides and others interpret the verse that states that the people “saw” the Voice of God. How does one see a Voice? One sees it as images and understands its message directly within one's mind. Torah was thus a mind-to-mind broadcast. From the “Mind” of God (whatever that means), through some medium of sonic wave (Voice), and then into the collective mind of the nation.
Modern science does understand a few things about sonic (sound) waves. We know that the human brain is a receptacle for sonic waves at frequencies above and below the normal threshold for audible human hearing. So, the concept of inaudible sound waves emanating from Sinai directly into the minds of the people is neither far-fetched, or scientifically difficult.
Essentially, the entire nation heard the entire Torah within the context of a single sub-audible sound, coupled with visual images that were imprinted directly into their cerebral cortex. Thus, as religion teaches us, all the Torah was indeed received on Mt. Sinai, even though the Torah did not yet congeal into the finite form in which we recognize it today.
Even with this insight, we are still far from discovering the mystery of the true revelation at Sinai. For now that we know that the Torah resides within the collective unconscious, how many untrained individuals can ever have access to the layers of the mind that reside beneath the conscious shell?
We have just deepened the mystery to now, possibly, unfathomable depths. If the nation was collectively programmed with the Torah, what exactly was/is the program? Judging from the long course of “sinful” Israelite history, from ancient through modern times, should we draw the conclusion that the collective programming has gone awry? Maybe the original programming did not take hold? Or maybe, just maybe, everything is functioning according to the Divine program, and everything is proceeding according to some mysterious and unfathomable Divine plan. Just maybe.
One thing is certain, God has His Ways and God has His plans, and we mortal humans will never be wise enough to understand either! Why and how God does what He does remains a mystery to us now, as it has ever been in the past.
Therefore, those who think that they understand God and can explain Him to others are, for the most part, the most deluded among us. Laymen, scholars and sages alike can quote to us from all the books that have ever been written. They can outline to us all the thoughts and ideas that man has had about God, and His Torah, over thousands of years of recorded literature. Yet, in the end, all that any of this teaches us is the words of man. None of them can come anywhere close to the Living Word of God.
With regards to observances of Torah Law, over many centuries, we have come to a general consensus of what we embrace as the permitted and the forbidden. Yet, this consensus is the work of man, God fearing, Torah believing men, but men nevertheless, using man-made intelligence, understanding and wisdom, which, we believe, is granted us by God.
Certainly there is no absolute agreement for monolithic practice or belief with many things, but as long as discussion and practice falls within the generally agreed framework, there is general consensus. And maybe, it is just this that God wants to teach us.
Quantum reality is never absolute. Funny, but apparently neither is Torah reality. Maybe this is no coincidence. Maybe this is the Way of God, and the original state and meaning of Torah. Maybe this is the definition of the Torah being a Living Word, meaning that it is constantly moving, breathing and changing.
Living Torah is always true to Itself. Just like any other life form, it always seeks its own best interest. But as perceptions change, so too do realities. And Torah, in this quantum universe was there, is here, and will be where it is needed to be in the future.
At Sinai, this was the Torah that was received, a Quantum reality, received in a quantum state. This is why Torah was transmitted telepathically directly into the collective unconscious, for just as the unconscious has no finite form until its contents become conscious, so too Torah did not become finite in form until the events recorded therein crystallized in this world.
Within the innermost recesses of the Israelite collective unconscious has the Torah resided since the beginning. And it is from there that the Torah will direct all of Israel to fulfill the purpose of the Creator, and bring to fruition the plan of creation.
The Torah is within us. It is genetically imprinted on our DNA. It is also within the innermost recesses of the collective, and individual unconscious mind. It direct us and guides us, if only we could train ourselves to hear its soft, still whisper speaking within our hearts.
And so the cycle continues. Another end in the beginning, and a new beginning in the end. And the Voice keeps on speaking!
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