Ani Maamin 08

30 Aug 2006

Eighth of the Thirteen Principles of the Jewish Faith laid down by the Rambam in the twelfth century, and the third of the four principles relating to the Authority and Authenticity of the Torah, the nature of Prophecy, and the Prophecy of Moshe Rabbeinu, A”H:

“I believe with complete faith that the entire Torah now in our hands is the same one that was given to Moshe, our Teacher, peace be upon him.”

The essence of this Principle is “Torah min HaShamayim,” “The origin of the Torah is Heaven;” in other words, the “Author” of the Torah is G-d Himself. Moshe Rabbeinu, May Peace be upon him, the greatest of the prophets before and after him, received the Torah, its Written Component, “Torah She-BiK’Tav,” and its Oral Component, “Torah She-B’Al Peh,” from HaShem, on Mt. Sinai.

During the forty-year sojourn of the Jewish People in the Wilderness, HaShem would review topics from the Written Torah, and Moshe would write them down, so to speak, as a “secretary taking dictation from his Boss.” Then he would begin the “Chain of Tradition” by teaching the Oral Torah, the explanation of the Written Torah, to Yehoshua, his disciple, and Yehoshua would teach it to the Elders. As time passed, the Elders would teach it to the Prophets, and the Prophets would teach it to the Men of the Great Assembly, as described in the first Mishnah of Pirkei Avot.

As a consequence of the fact that the Torah is “min HaShamayim,” we make no distinction (or minimal distinction) between “Remember the Shabbat to keep it Holy” (Shemot 20:8) and “You shall not murder” (Shemot 20:13 and Devarim 5:17) and the stories of the “Avot” in Sefer Bereshit, and “seemingly” inconsequential biographical information , such as “”Cush and Mitzrayim were the sons of Cham” (Bereshit 10:6) and “Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz, the son of Esav” (Bereshit 36:12).

One who questions the latter may concede that what looks important to him may have been “author’d” by G-d, but the so-called “trivial and inconsequential” material was more likely author’d by Moshe or some other human being. But we affirm that, on the contrary, every word in the Torah was author’d by G-d, every word is full of meaning, and that we can say of the Torah as a whole that“its length is greater than the earth and it is wider than the sea.” (Iyov 11:9), and we believe with complete Faith, as did King David, when he prayed to HaShem, “Open my eyes that I might see the wonders in Your Torah.”

The poetic rendering of this Principle in “Yigdal” is as follows:

“G-d gave His People a Torah of Truth,

By means of His Prophet, the most trusted of His household.”