Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Sinaitic Revelation

This week in Shul, we will read about the revelation at Mt. Sinai.

The following is excerpted from a letter from Elie Wiesel about an interview the Rebbe had with some college students in 1951. Part of the letter included a discussion about Mt. Sinai:

Q: How can you explain scientifically the existence of G-d and the need for religion?

A: Let us take the "Chumash" (Torah) and open it. Before you are many words.
Suppose you had never heard of a printer nor seen a printing shop. Would you then say, not knowing how these words were formed, that they developed from a bottle of ink that was spilled by itself and formed these words? Or would you not say that these words were made on purpose? You would have to say that there was some force that created these words and put them back in order. Just as a pencil which contains billions of atoms, has to have some law of order governing it to exist, so too do the words in the "Chumash" need an order governing it to exist and to be understood.

We have established that the "Chumash" was made purposefully. When G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people, they were given it directly from G-d and accepted it directly from Him. (Moses went halfway up Mount Sinai and G-d came down to meet him.) There were 600,000 Jews at Mount Sinai who heard what G-d said and who accepted the Torah. They passed on what they knew to be true from generation to generation. It is not very likely that a father in all his senses would tell his son a thing that is not so.

There have never been fewer than 600,000 religious Jews in Jewish history, and this chain of tradition has never been broken. There has never been an interruption in the constant regeneration of at least 600,000 religious Jews. In other religions, there is not to be found this unbroken chain of tradition.

Q: If all that is said above is true, what proof does one have that the Jewish religion is the true and only religion?

A: A scientific discovery is accepted when there is enough evidence or proof that the discovery is true. The more people who agree with the results of an experiment add support to that discovery. If 600 people performed an experiment using the same implements and 100 people performed the same experiment on the same basis, and the results showed that the 600 people stated a belief on the basis of their experiments, and the 100 people disagreed with them on the basis of their experiments, you would believe the 600 people more readily than the 100 people.
The Christian religion has only 12 witnesses to affirm its origin and prominence. The Buddhists had three witnesses. The Muslims had only one witness, and Mohammed was a mentally ill person. The Jewish people had 600,000 witnesses. On that basis you would say the Jewish religion has the greatest amount of witnesses and therefore the greatest amount of truth.

Q: Was there only quantity or quality too at Mount Sinai?

A: There was a great deal of quality. Jews from all walks of life were present; from all different occupations and professions (carpenters, bakers, scientists, philosophers). What greater quality of people can one assemble in one place?