Over 3,300 years ago, an event occurred that was so unique, so spectacular that it defies the imagination of many modern-minded individuals.
The notion of a divine being has existed for as long as mankind has walked the face of the earth. Many cultures have even created myths and legends surrounding their gods, some even relating the interaction of those gods with humankind. But those gods and myths seemed to have died with the people who created them.
Later religions, some of which have survived into the modern era, were more sophisticated. The gods of these religions were more abstract, and therefore more difficult (but not impossible) to discredit, and the myths were more "down-to-earth."
But of all the "religions" that have ever existed, only one makes the claim that God, the God of creation, came down to speak to an entire nation (Exodus 20:1; Deuteronomy 4:35) - over 3,000,000 people. And not only did this "religion" make this claim, but it also taught about 613 commandments, many of which ask people to work against their instinctual nature.
How do you sell all that to an entire nation?
True, you can always find a small group of people willing to accept almost any story. And if the perceivable benefits of such a religion appear obvious, and the intellectual and physical demands made upon the individual are few, then you can even enroll millions of others to join that religion.
But you could never get millions of people to believe a Mt. Sinai story, or to accept so many commandments that go against human nature, if there wasn’t a very, very, good reason to do so.
Yet that is the story of the Jewish people (a nation known for its intelligence), and their Torah (a.k.a., the Five Books of Moses). For millennia, the Jewish nation has accepted the account of the Torah being received directly from God at Mt. Sinai in the year 2448 from creation (1313 B.C.E.), and have fought to maintain its integrity.
Torah (literally, "laws" or "instructions") is a combination of historical accounts that describe the origins of existence and the Jewish nation, and commandments, instructions meant to guide the actions of the individual and nation in daily life. Both come to teach one thing: morality.
Even today there remains a core group of very intelligent Jews who still believe in both the Mt. Sinai experience, and the entire Torah. And it is a belief based not upon blind faith, but upon hard-core intellectual evidence, evidence that countless others dismiss for reasons that are neither rational nor practical.
Imagine being in the midst of a discussion with a visitor from a foreign country when, in passing he states, "Your laws are meaningless, baseless, and without any relevance whatsoever!" How would you respond?
You might answer back,"I’m sorry you feel that way, but what makes you conclude that? Is it because you’ve read all of our law books and had difficulty understanding the reasons for our laws?"
What would you think if the visitor from the foreign country answered, "Actually, I’ve never read your law books. I was just stating what I think...?" You’d probably say, "How could you draw such a negative conclusion with so little information?"
Yet, how many people critical of Torah and its laws have actually read the Torah from cover to cover? How many people who have read the Torah have also read its indispensable commentaries? Given the nature of the claim Torah makes - that it is God-given - it is nothing less than astonishing that so many people so easily reject it.
But aside from the claim Torah makes, there is another reason to study Torah, and to study it well. Because of the issues Torah addresses, it is practical for anyone who wishes to live the "good life" to open the best-selling book of all time, and learn what it has to say. It is more logical for a "disbeliever" to learn Torah than it is for him not to, as The Y Factor will try to make clear.
With deep heartfelt gratitude, I would like to thank all the people who have made it possible for me to write and publish this book.
Hodu l’Hashem ki tov
November 30, 1993