Reader: After spending a significant amount of time reading through your website, I have become most impressed with many of the ideas and thoughts you have presented. I have had the chance to listen to many of the shiurim and read many of the articles posted. You have reiterated quite often the need to follow the mind (and not just listen to what other people say); while most of what I have read seems to meet this standard, there is one article that seems rife with problems.
The article written by Rabbi Yisrael Chait concerning Torah from Sinai seems to have some flaws that I am not sure how to resolve:
The premise of
the proof invalidates the entire notion of mass conspiracy. Yet, in the area of
religion there is a tremendous emotional drive. You yourself have said you have
no interest in the fact that 99% of humanity does not accept Torah. Therefore,
one must assume that 99% of humanity have got it all wrong, and are simply
slaves to their emotions. What was different 2000 years ago? Were there more
rational people? Look at Paul, he traveled to Rome with a book of stories about
a guy who performed miracles in front of other people in the name of his “God”.
Any rational person would immediately look for the corroboration. Instead
millions of Romans jumped on board. One must therefore assume they were guided
by the intense religious emotion so common in man. Therefore, it would seem
quite plausible to assume the following: Moses presents a book filled with stories,
promises of good and bad, and laws to a bunch of people. Since most people are
blinded by their emotions, why not assume that these people blindly believed
the fact there is a claim of 600,000 of their ancestors witnessing Sinai? After
all, millions of people believe in the Trinity!!!
Mesora: You confuse two divergent points: Mass Testimony versus Blind Faith. Christianity did not profess that any event was witnessed by the masses, but perhaps by a handful at best. (Conspiracy exists only in small numbers.) Had they claimed masses witnessed any event, they would be required to produce these masses. The creators of Christianity knew this all to well, and concocted a “blind faith” credo as their line of defense. They conveniently fabricated fantastic, emotionally riveting stories about Jesus and his so called miracles, and also demanded “faith” to alleviate one’s guilt from sin. The combination of a need to be forgiven, with the ability to attach to someone supernatural (i.e., Jesus) who does “wonders”, is quite appealing, and attracted millions. But do not let emotional attraction be confused with “proof”. Christianity offered its adherents many satisfying feelings; 1) they were guilt free, 2) they could attach to the divine, 3) and it was so simple, just believe! Followers were thereby afforded an instant gratification in the religious sphere. But this in no way compares to the event at Sinai, and why we accept the latter as proof.
Moses could not convince 2.5 million people at Sinai that they all saw something, which did not occur. Christianity generated “belief” in a theory. Thus, it spread. However, one cannot convince others of “events” that they saw. This is where Moses’ story differs from Jesus’ story. Christianity did not require anything but blind faith, as its code is based on belief in a “theory”. Moses, on the other hand, was not asking the people to believe a “theory”, but rather, to attest to “what their eyes saw”.
You said, “Most people are blinded by their emotions” so Moses could fool people into a belief system as did Jesus’ followers. But now you must admit that this is not what Moses did. He did not request blind faith, but testimony of an event. One, identical story of Sinai was thereby spread unanimously, as the Jews did in fact witness the only mass revelation where G-d gave His one religion to mankind - Judaism.
Reader: The article strongly opposes the entire notion of using the miraculous as the basis for the acceptance of Judaism. There is even a nice footnote of how Einstein would not accept the “supernatural” claim made by the doctor, even if he witnessed it. This seems to present a quandary. First of all, was the event at Sinai a miracle or not? It would seem that God producing a voice is indeed a miracle; yet if this is the case, then the acceptance of Torah was based on a miracle, which would be a contradiction!
Mesora: There is no contradiction, as I will explain. But let us all first read the quote from Rabbi Chait’s article:
“When visiting the Rockefeller Medical Institute, Albert Einstein met with Dr. Alexis Carrel, whose extracurricular interests were spiritualism and extrasensory perception. Observing that, Einstein was unimpressed. Carrel said, "But Doctor what would you say if you observed this phenomenon yourself?" To which Einstein replied, "I still would not believe it." (Clark, Ronald W. Einstein: The Life and Times. (New York: 1971, Avon Books) p. 642). Why would the great scientist not capitulate even to evidence? It is a matter of one's total framework. The true man of science who sees knowledge permeating the entire universe from the smallest particle to the largest galaxies will not be shaken from his view by a few paltry facts even though he may not be able to explain them. Only the ignorant are moved by such "evidence." In a similar manner miracles do not affect a man of Torah who is rooted in Sinai and God's infinite wisdom. His credo is his cogito.”
Rabbi Chait’s article denounces the acceptance of miracles, but only when it contradicts reason. This is the sentiment expressed in his footnote above quoting Einstein. Einstein would not accept that which contradicts reason, i.e., extrasensory perception, even upon viewing evidence. In such a case, he would dismiss visuals in favor of what his mind tells him is true. Similar to a magic trick, we cannot explain it, but we know that an elephant cannot disappear off of a stage. We follow reason, and not the visual perception. However, Rabbi Chait cannot suggest we abandon ALL miracles, as Sinai was the miracle par excellence! So what is Rabbi Chait’s theory? He states that miracles are not believed when they contradict reason. This he supports from the Einstein quote. However, Sinai does not contradict reason, and Einstein would have no difficulty accepting G-d’s revelation. But tell Einstein that the human mind can tap another mind, knowing another person’s thoughts, and he will dismiss such a claim, as this phenomenon contradicts the design and abilities of the human mind.
Your question is answered as follows: It is “contradiction” which is unacceptable, not G-d’s ability to perform miracles. Miraculous claims will be dismissed when they contradict reason. But they will be accepted when supported by proof.
Reader: Furthermore, looking at the Einstein quite, one can see a potential problem. Why did Einstein say he would not even accept the “supernatural” event to be true even if he witnessed it? After all, why distinguish between the natural and supernatural? Einstein could assume the doctor had no motive to lie, therefore why question the validity? Yet if Einstein did distinguish between the supernatural and the natural, then it would make sense why he would not accept it. He would have a set of rational “rules”, trusting his intellectual intuition that such things could not happen. If such an event did happen, it would violate the rules he established. This does not presuppose it could not happen! For example, if Einstein were presented with the proof of Sinai, he would have two seemingly rational choices to make: either, he must accept the proof and abandon the rules he established concerning natural events, or accept his rules and deny the proof. Furthermore, the very notion of a mass conspiracy appeals to the same rational faculty as the basis for differentiating between the natural and supernatural. Why choose one over the other?
I present these questions in as respectful of a manner as possible. Please understand I am merely, like you, searching for truth. I look forward to your answer.
Mesora: As I mentioned, Einstein is not favoring natural over supernatural, but rather, reason over contradiction. Sinai presents no contradiction, and its miraculous content opposes no abilities of G-d. Hence, Sinai is perfectly acceptable. But tell someone that people can read minds, and Einstein would deny it. That phenomenon denies reason.