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Beit Midrash Jewish Laws and Thoughts Foundations of Faith

Chapter 11

11. Creation and History in the Torah

The account of historical events in the Torah strengthens our faith in the accuracy of these very facts. That the entire Jewish people accepted completely all of Moses' claims concerning the past, shows that these things were not given to doubt.
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We continue in our study of the fundamentals of the Jewish faith according to Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi's classic work, "The Kuzari."
Foundations of Faith (50)
Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
10 - 10. Israel's Uniqueness
11 - 11. Creation and History in the Torah
12 - 12. A History of the Divine
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In the course of their discussion, the Rabbi says to the Khazar king: "Our knowledge of how man evolved from Adam, the first human being, is based upon the prophecy of Moses our Teacher. It was he who lifted the veil of the past by relating to us how the world was created, what the behavior of people was like before the Great Flood, in what manner the seventy nations derived from Noah's sons, how the varying tongues evolved, where different peoples settled, in what manner cities and kingdoms came into existence, and the world's age in his time."

Astonished, the Kuzari inquired, "Do you Jews really have an accurate figure for the age of the World?" The Rabbi responded saying, "Certainly we do. At present the world is 4,500 years old." (This, of course is not the present figure, but the approximate year in which the discussion between the Khazar king and the Rabbi took place. At present, we count 5253 years to the creation of the world.) The Torah records the events which transpired from the time of Adam, Seth, and Enosh, until the era of Noah, Shem, and Ever, up to the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, closing with Moses our Teacher, may he rest in peace.

The account of historical events provided by the Torah strengthens our faith in the accuracy of these very facts, for it is impossible to invent a history of the not-so-distant past which enjoys undivided approval of the masses, unless it is in fact true. Furthermore, the Jewish Sages are not ignoramuses who naïvely accept information they receive without first considering it and examining it closely, and becoming totally convinced of its reliability.

The Patriarch Abraham lived in the time of the Tower of Babylon, when differing languages appeared in the world. He himself retained the language of his grandfather, Ever, and thus received the name Abraham "HaIvri." When Moses was active, about five hundred years later, humankind had already advanced to the point where it possessed precise knowledge of the workings of the heavens and the earth. It was in such an era that Moses stood before Pharaoh and the leading thinkers of Egypt. Even the wise men of Israel questioned and examined him most thoroughly before accepting his claims. It was not so easy to convince people that God speaks with man. Only when they themselves heard the voice of God relating the Ten Commandments did the Jews' faith become firm. They certainly would not have been willing to accept Moses claim that some five hundred years earlier there had been only one language in the world, viz. Hebrew, and that some nations could trace their genealogy back to Yefeth, others to Shem, and still others to Ham, unless it was in fact reliable. For, five hundred years is a relatively short period of time, and such a claim could be amply scrutinized.

The fact that the entire Jewish people accepted completely all of Moses' claims concerning the past, shows that these things were well founded and not given to doubt. And though we are in no need of external support, the truth of the Torah's historical account regarding the period from the first human being up until the time of Moses has been accepted from us by many peoples in both the Near East and the West, as is well known.

Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed
Rosh Yeshiva of the Bet El Yeshiva, was the head of the Yesha rabbis board and rabbi of Bet-El, founder and head of Arutz 7.
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