Weekly Story: Irrefutable Proof that Torah Is from G-d

by Rabbi Sholom  Avtzon

Being that Shavuos – Mattan Torah is this Tuesday night; I thought it would be appropriate to relate a Yechidus that a group of college students had with the Rebbe, which took place in the 50’s. I heard it from my father in law, Rabbi Moshe Goldman sheyichye.

In the 50’s there were numerous groups of Jewish college students that came to the Rebbe, and the Rebbe would talk to them in his room. After the Rebbe spoke, he would ask them if anyone wishes to ask him a question, and he would answer them.

With this particular group, one of their non-religious Jewish professors came along, and evidently he wasn’t too happy as he noticed, that some or many of the students were taking the Rebbe’s words to heart, and were resolving to strengthen their commitment to Torah and mitzvos. So when the Rebbe said, he is open to hear and answer anyone’s question, the professor himself decided to ask, what he thought would be a knockout question.

His question was, “Rabbi, how do we know for a fact, that the Torah was given to Moshe and the Jewish people from Hashem (G-d). Perhaps, Moshe who was an extremely intelligent person, surrounded himself with other incredible minds and wrote the Torah?”

Obviously, he thought, the Rebbe would reply, that this is our tradition and he would be able to tell the students on their way home, you see, the Rabbi couldn’t give a decisive and coherent answer.

However, to his consternation, the Rebbe replied, I will give you three solid proofs from the Torah that it was written and given by the Creator – Hakodosh Boruch Hu, and not by man, even the smartest man.

Proof Number One:

In the Torah it is stated that an animal is kosher only if it has completely split hooves and also chews its cud. If it has neither of these two signs or even if it has only one of these characteristics, it is unfit to eat as it is not kosher. The Torah then notes, that there are only four animals that either have split hooves or chew their cud, and are therefore not kosher.

Now from the time the Torah was given to us, in the Hebrew year of 2448, until now, more than 3300 years have passed, and numerous countries and indeed continents have been discovered. In those years, hundreds and indeed thousands of animals have been discovered, animals that did not exist in the inhabited lands that Moshe and the Jewish people were aware of. Yet, the number of 4 animals, with only one of these two characteristics has not changed. Is that not a proof that our holy Torah is not man made, but rather made by the Creator Himself. How would people know which animals are living on the other side of the world?! How can they say for a fact that there are no more than four such animals?!

Proof Number Two:

In Parshas Behar, (which is towards the end of Leviticus), the Torah instructs us to refrain from working the land on the sabbatical year. Then the Torah states, if you say, what are we going to eat that year, if we don’t plant and harvest? The possuk continues; I will give my blessing and the earth will produce the year prior to the Sabbatical year, enough grain to last until you are ready to harvest the following years produce. Meaning, it will take care of the needs of the 6th year, the sabbatical year, and the beginning of the first year of the new cycle.

Now which man, especially a wise man will make such a promise for generations to come. Everyone realizes and knows that things can happen that are beyond his control; a drought or flood can create havoc, and then they will be proven false. So no intelligent person would intentionally set themselves up for failure and ridicule, which would cause people to say not only is that point wrong, but everything else in it is also not definitely so. But, the only one that has the ability to make this statement and give this guarantee, is the Creator Himself. And just as that is a truth that lasted throughout the generations, so too is everything else in the Torah an everlasting truth!

So these are the proofs that the Torah was given to us by the Creator and not a man, even by and from the wisest of men.

My father-in-law, doesn’t remember hearing at that time what the third proof is, and if anyone remembers hearing it from others, please share it with all our readers.

May we conclude with the words of the Rebbe, “May we all merit to receive the Torah b’simcha (with happiness) u’b’pnimius (and internalize its message).

Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and an acclaimed author. He is available to farbreng in your community and can be reached at avtzonbooks@gmail.com.

30 Comments

  • 1. Milhouse wrote:

    Now from the time the Torah was given to us, in the Hebrew year of 2448, until now, more than 3300 years have passed, and numerous countries and indeed continents have been discovered. In those years, hundreds and indeed thousands of animals have been discovered, animals that did not exist in the inhabited lands that Moshe and the Jewish people were aware of. Yet, the number of 4 animals, with only one of these two characteristics has not changed

    The problem with this argument is that it is simply not true, in two ways. First, two of the four species listed don’t have even one siman. Second, other species with only one siman have been discovered, and the only way to “save” the rule is to arbitrarily consider them to be types of camel, not for any scientific reason but simply to avoid the question. We can accept that because we already believe; one who doesn’t already believe can’t be convinced by such a “proof”. (That the professor was clearly unaware of this speaks only about him, not about the proof itself.)

    Proof two only works if you assume the Torah as we have it was written before the Jews entered the land, and there was ever a time when they kept Shmittah and Yovel. If it was written during the time of Bayis Sheni then there were no Yovlos, and no Shmita de’oraisa, and no bumper crops.

    • 2. Chana wrote:

      First, two of the four species listed don’t have even one siman? Wrong. Open a Chumash. Your second point is heard with equal consternation. You’re such an extremist…

    • 3. Milhouse wrote:

      No, you are wrong. It is a fact that two of the four species listed as having one siman don’t. How we deal with that fact is a different question, but no amount of looking in a chumash will change it.

    • 4. Impressive wrote:

      You know better than the Rebbe. Wow, what a burden that must be for you. How do you keep quiet? Oh wait… you don’t.

    • 5. Rav K wrote:

      Your points were raised by “Rabbi” Natan Slifkin in his banned books – one of several reasons why his books were placed in cherem ( plus promoting evolution and other kefira). I hope you are not j joining the kat hakofrim v’minim.

    • 6. Milhouse wrote:

      Facts are facts no matter who raises them. They’re stubborn things; you can’t argue with them, and they remain true no matter who says what.

      I’ve got my problems with Slifkin, but the so-called “cherem” was a joke, and a disgrace to the so-called “authorities” who signed it. Some of the questions he raises are 100% valid; I don’t agree with his answers, but nobody can honestly dispute the questions.

    • 7. Asher wrote:

      Kol Hakavod! It’s good to see someone with intellectual honesty. That this proof is still used nowadays by many kiruv people nearly turned me off from chareidi Judaism.

    • 8. Milhouse wrote:

      Asher, I’m glad it didn’t turn you off. The fact that some independent resellers are using incompetent or dishonest pitches doesn’t affect the product’s quality. “Torah iz di beste s’chora”, regardless of any advertising bloopers.

  • 9. MZ wrote:

    I’m not sure what the Rebbe said then, but I’ve heard another proof is that the vast number of people standing at har sinai all said the same thing. Everybody has the same recollection of what happened at har Sinai and nobody disputes what was said. Ask two Rabbis a question and you’ll get three answers (just kidding), but here everybody agrees with every single word and that’s a pretty good proof. Again I don’t know if this is the Rebbe’s third proof but it definitely is a proof.
    I really like your articles and look forward to them every week

    • 10. Milhouse wrote:

      This is the Kuzari’s famous “proof” but it doesn’t really work either, because nobody today, or within written history, has any recollection of what happened there. The only way we know that Maamad Har Sinai even happened is because the Torah says so, and we already believe, for other reasons, that the Torah is true. But anyone you’re trying to convince of the Torah’s truth thinks the whole story is a fantasy, there were no 600,000 witnesses, and there was never any tradition handed down by those fictional people to their descendants.

      And there is no way to prove that such a tradition ever existed. If, as everyone except us believes, the Torah went through many revisions before being edited into the form we have today, and that this didn’t happen until more than 1200 years after the event, it would have been easy to insert the claim of such a tradition in one of the later revisions. Now we believe this isn’t true. We believe the Torah that we had 2000 years ago is the same one we had 1300 years before that. But there is no way for us to prove it.

    • 12. Milhouse wrote:

      Keleman’s a great flimflam man, but that’s all his show is. In the great tradition of flimflam, he palms the card and presents the audience with a set of false options. Obviously there was no “Fred”.* Those who believe the JEPDR theory (which is pretty much the entire world except us) claim that the Torah developed and spread in different versions over many generations until one more-or-less consensus version gradually won out over the others, in the one sect from which we descend.

      The fact is that many myths take hold among people. To give some trivial examples, how many frum Jews today are convinced that Rashi’s daughters wore tefillin? How many people are convinced that Columbus discovered the earth is round, and his opposition came from the consensus view that it was flat? How many American Jews believe their own grandparents’ names were changed at Ellis Island? How many people believe that the Nazis y”sh made soap from Jewish bodies? Or that less than 80 years ago, here in New York Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds broadcast created mass panic? And yet none of these things are true.

      More than that: How many millions of people are convinced that they themselves heard, with their own ears Sarah Palin claim that she could see Russia from her house? Of course they didn’t, because she didn’t. But they believe it.

      So the Kuzari proof doesn’t work. The Torah is of course true, but the Kuzari proof for this, like most if not all the proofs offered, only seem to work if you already believe it anyway. They’re useless for convincing someone who doesn’t already believe, and who has the brains to see through them.

      * (Well, not so obvious, many of our own sages believed that Chilkiyahu Hakohen was “Fred”. Of course they believe that he was a true “Fred”, but nevertheless, if this explanation of the story is correct then it blows away Keleman’s whole spiel. However, this is a side-point, because there are better explanations of the story that don’t require Chilkiyahu to have been a “Fred”.)

    • 14. Milhouse wrote:

      Not independently verified. Once you get back past Rabbenu Gershom the chain becomes highly doubtful, relying on just one source which is contradicted by other sources. The history of the Geonic period is murky. The first few centuries CE is reasonably clear, but pre-CE it gets even worse than that, because there are no contemporaneous sources.

  • 15. Rav K wrote:

    The Gemara in Chulin 59 specifically states that the Torah lists these four because they are the only animals with one kosher sign: gmiri d’leika.

    Milhouse, you might want to dispute the Rebbe but you can’t dispute the Gemara!

    • 16. Milhouse wrote:

      And yet it isn’t true. The gemara also says (Eruvin 14a) that pi is precisely 3, and not even the slightest fraction more or less. This is of course not true. Nobody believes it to be true. Every commentary on the Tanach and the Mishna says it’s merely an approximation. In fact the Rebbe gives an ingenious explanation for how the dimensions the Tanach gives for the Yam Shel Shlomo can be justified as a reasonable approximation. The gemara had no reason to insist otherwise; but it does.

      In my opinion one of the most important Tosfosen in Shas is on that amud (d”h Veho’iko Mashehu). Tosfos asks the obvious question, and does not even suggest an answer. It just asks the question and ends. So why do I believe it’s so important? Think about it. The baal hatosfos had an unanswerable kashe. He had caught the gemara red-handed in a false statement. So what did he do? Vaiter geforen. He didn’t take off his yarmulke, he didn”t shmad zach, he didn’t even stop learning gemara. He went on. Because fun a kashe shtarbt men nisht. The Torah remains true, even if we have questions we can’t answer. After 120 we’ll track down Mar bar Rav Ashi and ask him about it. In the meantime we carry on with the next sugya.

  • 17. Anonymous wrote:

    First of all it is not only brought down by the cuzari but many more mefurshim, and it is an excellent proof. Let’s think of different scenarios that could of taken place. We know that Torah tells us that in the year 2448 Hashem spoke to klal Yisrael. (est. 3 millon) and as the Torah commands us it was passed down generation to generation (father to son etc.) Let us assume the whole story was a myth, so how did Judaism come about? POSSIBILITY #1 some man by the name of Moses sold the people a great story that at Mount Sinai they’re Ancestors bared witness to mass revelation. The problem is why hasn’t anyone heard from they’re parents of this awesome event (not even one) POSSIBILITY #2 mass conspiracy. The problem is we dealing with millions of people, to say they all made a story knowing it is false is extremely Inprobable, besides why would they Conspire a religion that limits and controls every possible freedom. POSSIBILITY #3 it was an illusion. Again we will running into the same issue that millions of people having an illusion at the exact same moment coming out with the same conclusion is highly Inprobable (especially that they were witnessing the words of g-d) in conclusion the same way we Believe Abraham Linkin existed cuz they’re numerous witnesses and documents etc. (Even though it could of been a mass conspiracy) the same is with Mount Sinai.

    Just to point out, according to the Chovos Halivovos it is a “mitzvah min hatorah” to learn chakirah.

  • 18. above comment wrote:

    So it’s pretty simple why Judaism is the only religion that claims they witnessed Mass Revelation AND SURVIVED.

  • 19. Rav K wrote:

    Milhouse, there is a brocha said in each weekday shmonei esrei which specifically “bentches” kol ha’minim. During chazoras hashatz we all say amen to this brocha.

  • 20. for our friend Millhouse wrote:

    Looking forward to the day with the coming of Moshiach and the Rebbe can explain things for you better and better.

    In the meantime , as my son gave me a new computer term today . ” keyboard warrior” , I think you are qualified :)

    also , some points the Rebbe answers further are in a shavous sicha 5751 , about 20 pages long

    Good Yom tov all, we should all be zoche to receive The Torah, Simcha and B’Pnimmius

  • 21. Av wrote:

    With all due respect these questions have been raised by secularists for the last few decades and in some cases generations and have been clearly answered.
    1. “First, two of the four species listed don’t have even one siman.” This is a very silly argument. It is true that according to the scientific definition of chewing cud the animals that the Torah describes do not chew their cud but instead perform an action that from the outside resembles cud chewing. However any moderately intelligent person realizes that the Torah is not trying to give scientific definitions but rather to let you know what you can and can’t eat. So if you see an animal that does something that resembles chewing cud but has no split hoof, don’t eat it. Science may be helping to answer the age old question about whether chewing cud and split hoof are a cause of whether they may be eaten or not or just a sign for which can or cannot be eaten but even that is arguable.
    2. “Second, other species with only one siman have been discovered, and the only way to “save” the rule is to arbitrarily consider them to be types of camel, not for any scientific reason but simply to avoid the question.” Again the Torah is not interested in scientists who thousands of years later decide to break up categories of animals into very specific detailed genus. If your regular person would see that animal and say that pretty much looks like a camel and has only one siman then that is what the Torah is telling you not to eat. Now if someone found something that looked like a monkey and had only one siman that would be a question but of course that will never happen.
    3. “Proof two only works if you assume the Torah as we have it was written before the Jews entered the land, and there was ever a time when they kept Shmittah and Yovel. If it was written during the time of Bayis Sheni then there were no Yovlos, and no Shmita de’oraisa, and no bumper crops.” This is also a very silly argument unless you assume that the “committee” who wrote the Torah had no foresight at all. Imagine you are writing a rule book that you want people to accept and follow, promise them that a miracle will happen that you have no control over. If those people decide to take you seriously and start keeping shmittah and then no miracle happens your whole book is out the window. Ok maybe people just won’t keep it or will justify why the miracle hasn’t happened but why write it in the first place and take the chance of having something you say be falsified? This is such a small miracle in comparison to the other ones in the Torah that it makes no sense to take the chance on it.
    4. “If, as everyone except us believes, the Torah went through many revisions before being edited into the form we have today, and that this didn’t happen until more than 1200 years after the event, it would have been easy to insert the claim of such a tradition in one of the later revisions.” This is also very silly. Again imagine the committee who edited the Torah and put this in in one of the revisions. Now they come to people and say accept this book which says that all of your ancestors were taken out of Egypt, walked across the split sea, met G-d at har Sinai where he gave them the Torah, ate food from heaven for 40 years in the desert where they were protected by clouds. Then they came to Eretz Yisroel fought long wars, many of which were miraculously won and built a temple that stood for 400 years during which time there were prophets who accurately predicted future events etc etc. If none of that actually happened to their ancestors those people would laugh in their faces. Those would not be things that would just have been forgotten by all of them and no normal person would ever accept such a thing. You would have to assume that an entire nation was so completely gullible that although none of them had any tradition of incredible life defining miracles that happened to their ancestors it must have just been forgotten, which is a ridiculous assumption.

    This is just a brief overview. There is much more to say on this topic but I did not want to just leave this out there unanswered.

    • 22. Milhouse wrote:

      If you have to explain it away, it should be obvious that you can’t then use it as a proof.

      By the way, llamas and alpacas don’t look much like camels. And rabbits and hyraxes don’t really even look like they chew their cuds. But that’s not the point. The point is that however you farentfer it, you can’t use it as a proof.

    • 23. Milhouse wrote:

      At the time the world believes the Torah was written, yovel was no longer in effect, and therefore the bracha was no longer in force. So nobody would ever have waited for the bracha and seen it not come true.

  • 24. chulin wrote:

    The Rebbe didn’t give his own answer ,
    the Rebbe quoted the Gemara in Chulin 59, that says this is a proof that the Torah is from heaven

    If there is a question on this as there are more animals like Alpaca and others , its not a question on the Rebbe, its a question on the Gemara

    • 25. Milhouse wrote:

      Do you hear how ridiculous you sound? You sound like the person whose “watertight proof” of Hashem’s existence was that it’s a befeiresher posuk in Chumash! This is actually a very deep thought, and 100% valid,* but as a proof to the nonbeliever it’s an obvious non-starter.

      If your only proof for it is that the gemara says so, how can you possibly imagine it can serve as a proof that the Torah is true? Anyone who doesn’t already believe in the Torah doesn’t believe the gemara either. Especially when the easily verifiable facts are otherwise.

      * (It’s actually a stark distillation of Yisroel maaminim benei maaminim. We don’t start from non-belief and discover belief. We start with belief. It’s in our souls, yerusho lonu me’avoseinu. And to a maamin if the possuk says there’s an Eibershter then it must be true. There is no other possibility. But when dealing with someone who doesn’t already believe, it should be obvious that such a “proof” is worse than useless.)

  • 26. “First, two of the four species listed don’t have even one siman.” wrote:

    “First, two of the four species listed don’t have even one siman.”

    Assuming you are referring to “HaShofon ViHoarneves” which we normally transalate as the Rabbit and the Hare who do not really chew their cuds as they are rodents, not rudimantary animals, My shver Professor Hasofer A”H Hear from Rabbi Tendler sheyiche, who is a professor in Biology, that he asked the Rebbe and he answered him that obviously they are NOT the Rabbit and the Hare rather a soeices of Camel who was hunted to EXTINCTION for their tast meat as the Dodo Bird etc’… Hence the command not to eat them! In fact, till today Camel is highly eaten in the Middle East, Saudia Arabia, in fact Ice Cream is made from Camel Milk, hence the Issur of Cholov Akum!

    • 27. Av wrote:

      Not to upstage millhouse but if what you are saying is true (and I assume it is) then it cannot be used as a proof of anything.

    • 28. Milhouse wrote:

      The shofon is mentioned many times in Tanach, and there is no doubt that it is the hyrax. Nor is there any real doubt that arneves refers to the whole rabbit/hare family.

      The evidence for these identifications is at least as good as those for gomol and chazir (or for sus, shor, chamor, yonoh, slov, and all the other Biblical species); if you doubt the first two you have to also doubt the others.

      As for species hunted to extinction within historical times, we have records of them. People wrote about them when they existed, and noted when they disappeared. And these two extinctions would have had to have taken place in historical time, because the very gemoro we’re discussing takes it for granted that these two species still existed.

  • 29. Av wrote:

    “If you have to explain it away, it should be obvious that you can’t then use it as a proof.” It is not called explaining away if it obvious that normal people would think of it that way.

    “At the time the world believes the Torah was written, yovel was no longer in effect, and therefore the bracha was no longer in force. So nobody would ever have waited for the bracha and seen it not come true.” Again this is faulty logic. According to those who say it was written by committee they would and should expect that people will take this seriously going forward.

    • 30. Milhouse wrote:

      You’re not making any sense.

      1. The moment you start explaining the posuk away as you do, it loses all predictive power. You claim no more animals with one siman have been discovered, but when confronted with llamas and alpacas you say oh, they’re just funny camels. So no matter how many other animals are found with one siman you’ll say the same thing. If they have no split hooves they’re camels, and if they do they’re pigs, even if they look nothing like those creatures. Meanwhile you’re busy explaining why hyraxes and rabbits’ completely non-ruminant behavior can count kind-of-sort-of as cud-chewing, but other animals, whose behavior may bear even closer resemblance to rumination, somehow don’t.

      2. I’ve already pointed out twice that at the time this is supposed to have happened, the bracha was conveniently no longer supposed to be in effect. They already had the answer when the bumper crops failed to appear — the same answer we have today: the bracha only applied long ago when there were shmitin and yovlos (which according to this theory is never), and not now. Your objection would only be a problem if the promise had been introduced at a time when it was still expected to be effective, but nobody claims that.

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