- Was the Torah Ever Lost?
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- Reader: Was the book of Deuteronomy ever lost? I've read in a
few history books that King Josiah rediscovered this book at around
the time of 620-621 BCE. I am asking this question because I was under
the impression that the five books of Moses were passed down from
generation to generation with total continuity. I would appreciate it
if you could help clarify this issue for me.
- Mesora: In Kings II, 22:8, we
find the account of the High Priest Chilkyahu who finds a Torah in the
dilapidated Temple. At the same time, King Yoshiyahu was restoring the
Temple ruined by his predecessors. Passage 22:2 states that King
Yoshiyahu veered neither left or right from all the ways of King
David. Clearly, King Yoshiyahu kept the Torah. These were exclusively
the ways of King David.
- The Rabbis are of the opinion that when they read the Torah, and the
King rent his garments, this refers to finding it "rolled to a
particular area" which dealt with curses and exile. It is clear
then that King Yoshiyahu observed Torah. This incident of finding a
Torah in the Holy of Holies was not the first incident King Yoshiyahu
- Do you ask if the Torah was forgotten by King Yoshiyahu? He would
not have been able to recognize this scroll as a Torah. He would not
have known what the Torah was. Or do you ask if the Jews forgot the
Torah? The Radak explains that during Menashe's reign, the Jews
pursued idolatry and ceased from following Torah. This continued until
King Menashe repented. It does not mean they forgot what Torah was. It
means they abandoned Torah. Could you imagine that our history, in any
civilization would be blotted out or forgotten? That the event at Mt.
Sinai would also be forgotten?
- Rebelliousness does not cause one to forget. If we suggest that many
did forget Torah, we still see Menashe repented and did not forget. We
see the Torah was never abandoned permanently. Repentance means that
one knows what
to return to.