I once asked myself – I wonder I would be like if I was born in Africa.
Then I remembered I was born in Africa. (Morocco)
Product of One’s Environment
A person is the product of his environment.
His experiences, upbringing, society and values shape his perception of the world.
Is there One Truth?
The question that people ask is – is there one truth for everyone.
The answer is – Yes.
Yes – in that there is one truth. The truth that G-d provides.
Yet, for different people different ways of life are appropriate – obviously following that one truth that G-d provides. Different situations also provide different ways of acting. Give a person a bat to play baseball – you are doing good. Give a person a bat to hit someone with it, you are doing bad. Doing Good and bad depends upon the situation.
Laws to Guide and Help You find Purpose
G-d gives laws that give a person much flexibility. But more than that He gives laws that will help a person determine what is his or her purpose, the path to reach it and the possibility to reach one’s potential in life.
The Truth of G-d is what?
First – we must examine what would be the rational way for G-d to give a divine law.
Would it be more rational for G-d to give it to one person and say – go and transmit it to others or would it be more rational for G-d to appear Himself to an entire nation – of millions of people – and give them a divine Law?
Apparently it would make more sense for G-d to appear to millions of people. To appear to one man – regardless of who it was – would not be so convincing. A single person cannot be a witness in Jewish law for certain things. At least two people are needed.
Judaism is the only religion that claims that G-d himself gave millions of witnesses – the Jews – a Divine law – the Torah.
Do Miracles Prove Divinity?
Miracles do not prove a person has any divine powers. A person can lift a table. To a child that would appear he did the impossible – for the small child seeing it – the man is doing something that the child cannot do. Doing miracles can be done by the wicked and good. G-d had to make it that way to provide freedom of choice to the world.
If only good people could do miracles or magic then the people would be tempted to do good because they saw it is obviously true – because only good people can do miracles.
Freedom of Choice
Let’s take another example – if only good people would become rich – then everybody would be good. Yet most would not become good because they see the intrinsic value of good and that they are doing the will of G-d – they would be doing it because they want to become rich.
Why do The Good Suffer and the Wicked Prosper?
Freedom of Choice – as explained above – is one reason why sometimes the good suffer and the wicked prosper.
But in the end the wicked will be punished & the righteous rewarded. If not in this world – in the World to Come / Heaven.
How to find Truth
One way to find truth is to write out your thoughts about a certain topic. If it seems right to you – then perhaps you are right. Show it to someone else.
Here’s an example:
I am upset at the cashier because she charged me the regular price on the can of tunafish – when it was on sale.
Now if you read that – a person will think – it’s someone else who put the wrong price tag on the tuna. Why should the cashier be responsible? She shouldn’t yell at the cashier. She should raise her issue with the management. Obviously – in a calm manner.
The Tricks of Liers
The Torah says the best lie is one that is mixed with truth. If you say you saw a cow flying 200 feet people wouldn’t believe it. But if you say – a cow that was on a truck and the truck stopped suddenly causing a cow to fly 200 feet out of the back of the truck. They might believe it.
Unfortunately – many religions say yes the Torah is true. “But” G-d changed his mind about his laws or about the selection of his people. They take Torah truth and mix it with falsity and pass it on as the Truth. The thing many don’t realize is that “G-d changing his mind” is irrational. G-d is omniscient. He knows all the past, present and future and thus does not change his mind.
Arriving at truth
A person can discuss truth with a non-biased person. The main point is is to stick to rationality. If either one starts talking irrationally – then the game is over,
A person who is not honest – you cannot really discuss things to find the truth – because their self-interest taints the search for truth.
This week’s Torah Reading (Bamidbar / Numbers 16:1 – 18:32) Talks about Korah. He started a power struggle in the Desert. He accused Moshe / Moses – of nepotism – that Moshe gave the position of Chief Cohen – to his brother Aharon – because Aharon was his brother.
Korah – egged on by his wife – created a quarrel against Moses.
Moshe – in his Humility – went to the parties who started the quarrel and tried to convince them that they were in the wrong. They refused to listen. He tried reason. He tried explaining the consequence of their actions. He explained that he had nothing to gain from being in a position of leadership.
Provide a Litmus Test
He provided a challenge. They claimed that they deserved to be the Chief Cohen / High Priest. Moses said – the 250 people with Korach – will all take fire pans – and offer an incense offering. If one would remain alive – that person would be the High Priest in stead of his brother Aharon. Afterwards he added that Aharon also would participate in the offering.
Why did he do it this way?
Because if all the people died – that would prove that they were not chosen as the high priest – but it would not show that Aharon was chosen to be the High priest.
So therefor he said afterwards that His brother Aharon would also participate – to not only prove that – they are not chosen as the High Priest – but to also prove that His brother Aharon was chosen to be High priest.
To prove something wrong – you can’t just disprove an argument – you have to also show that your position is correct.
Being Ready to Go to the End and Change All for Truth
Once Rabbi Israel Salantar was discussing a particular issue with a person from the Maskilim / “Enlightened” Movement. In the middle of the discussion the man told his wagon driver to get the carriage ready. The Rabbi stopped the discussion. The man asked – why don’t we continue the discussion? The Rabbi replied – I was ready to join your position if you were truthful and were really sincere about truth – but since for you it is only an intellectual exercise and you have no interest in changing if you are proven wrong – I have no time for intellectual musings.
The person who is discussing a topic – should be aware of why they hold a position. Is it because they want to find truth or is it that they want to defend their position.
Many a time a person will find “fault” with Torah and defend himself or herself. His point of view is not based upon careful investigation or rational analysis of the situation. He found a way to justify his immoral way of life by his “disproving” to himself “the existence of G-d.”
In the back of his mind he is thinking if G-d doesn’t exist in my mind – I have the right to act immorally – without guilt. That’s what many scientists do (including Stephan Hawking). They find “fault” with the reasoning of the existence of G-d – to justify their lifestyle. In the end – it is irrational to think that way – because of the argument found in many dentist offices. Ignore your teeth and they will go away. If a person ignores the existence of G-d, it doesn’t mean that G-d will disappear. That person will still be accountable for their actions in the end.
It is also irrational to think that G-d does not exist. If a person found a pencil while walking on the beach – he would never say “The sand just blew together randomly to form this new pencil.” He would know there was an intelligent creator of the pencil. Even more so a person, all nature, the planets, etc – testify to an intelligent creator. Random atoms don’t create people, animals, plants, fruits (see what R. Avigdor Miller says on the orange proving existence of G-d), vegetables, order, movement, mobility, growth, perfect interactions between mates, uniformity, unified laws – like physics and chemistry, etc.
Many a time a person fears what G-d expects from them when it is much easier than they think. According to Torah, Gentiles follow the 7 Commandments and Jews follow Shulhan Aruch – the code of Jewish Law. Both are relatively easy to get accustomed to after serious commitment. So what it comes down to is that many people ascribe to illogical ideas to avoid just taking upon themselves 7 or 10 commandments.
A Popular Rabbi in Israel – Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak – teaches secular Jews about the Torah. He provides clear and rational proofs of the Torah. After his lecture – completely secular Jews – take upon themselves the Mitzvot. Men start putting on Tzitzit / Tassels on their Fringes of their four cornered garments. Married women – take upon themselves to cover their hair. This is the ultimate in recognizing Truth – changing – because you found truth. Those who never observed the Shabbat according to Torah start to do so.
Having Someone to Reason With
In Torah Study – we discuss the issue until we are satisfied that we have come up with a truthful conclusion. Learning Torah with a study partner – hevruta – the usual way of learning Torah – is a way that we arrive at truth. You can sometimes pull the wool over your own eyes – but the study partner will be able to have a more objective view.
The Wife Who Saves Her Husband
In the story of the rebellion of Korah and his followers – one person – Ohs Ben Pelet – is mentioned in the beginning, yet at the “showdown” he is no longer mentioned. His wife saved his life. She reasoned him – “Look, Ohn – what do you gain if you join Korah’s rebellion? Under the rulership of Moses, you are not the leader. If Korah also wins the rebellion you will also not be the leader. So what do you gain?” He acknowledged her truth and she found away to disassociate her husband from the quarrel which saved his life.
Many a time a person thinks he is fooling others. Really he or she fools himself. He think he can swindle others and not be caught. Eventually – he is caught. Eventually the truth catches up. If not in this world – in the next.
A rabbi visited a fellow Jew on his death bed. The man disregarded Torah and Mitzvot all his life. The Rabbi explained – if the man would do Teshuva / Repent, he would get a nice portion in heaven. Even if one does Teshuva the last moment, Hash-m will forgive him or her. The man refused. Apparently – even though he would gain much from repentance – the man refused because he didn’t want to admit that all his life he “wasted” doing nothing to better himself or the world.
Once a Rabbi visited a non-Jewish reverend in the hospital. The reverend was about to die. He asked the rabbi – his religion said that the Jews would never Return to Israel. Now he saw that the Jews had returned and many of the prophesies of his religion were outright disproven. He wondered on the deathbed – “if he had wasted his life in following his religion.” At this moment of truth – the rabbi knew it wasn’t the time to mince words. The rabbi replied “Yes.” The reverend died with pain. Apparently – dieing recognizing the truth is better than dieing without recognizing it.
But even better is to recognize truth when it comes your way. Better to acknowledge the truth and change once you encounter it – rather than wait for the last minute.