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Was The Torah Given for All of Time?

How do I know that the Torah was given for all time? Maybe it was meant to or could change or be replaced? Can the Torah be replaced by a New Testament or a Koran? Rabbi Avraham Edelstein elaborates

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The proofs for truth of the Torah are so powerful that even Christianity and Islam admit that the Torah was given to the Jews at Sinai. What these religions claim is, though, that things changed later on, that at some stage G-d decided to choose a new people and to give a new Torah.

This being the case, there is nothing to stop this from happening again tomorrow. There is no reason not to believe in Mordechai Kaplan’s Reconstructionism, which states that Judaism has to be reinvented anew by each generation. The natural extension of this is that it does away with any absolute, eternal system of laws and spirituality. It is therefore no more compelling to be a Christian than it is to just to work out for one’s self what it means to be a good person.

Yet, to suggest that the Koran or the New Testament came to replace the Torah is to suggest that at some point the Torah became dated and needed to be replaced. This is an insult to G-d – it implies that He was not clever enough to introduce principles that would apply for all time.

When G-d gave the Torah, He knew that things were going to constantly change: science would progress, there would be times of war and times of peace; Jews would find themselves in Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia; some would be poor and some would be rich. So G-d gave us a Torah which was rich in the deep structure of ethics and spirituality – a code of principles which would translate into the endless variations which would unfold for mankind. These would be applied by the Torah experts of every generation and each generation has therefore produced a rich literature of contemporary responsa. One only has to glance at one of the contemporary halachic responsa to witness the full range of current issues – from Bioethics to the modern company to high-tech food-production.

The Torah can address any new issue without ever changing, because the deeper laws of ethics were always there to begin with. To accept a contemporary ethics is to accept a set of values which tomorrow will be outmoded and dated. G-d would have no purpose in a revelation that was relevant to one generation and not the next. Clearly, He intended His revelation to be as meaningful and contemporary for us as it was for the generation that went out of Egypt.

Indeed, if anything it is easier to see the wisdom of the Torah today. It seems amazing that its reservoirs of wisdom can easily accommodate all the modern progress in biogenetics, economics, medicine, and the microchip. It has anticipated many of the issues that arose and provided a deeper appreciation of why Jewish community and family has been so vibrant and stable to this very day.

It is for good reason, then, that the unchangeability of the Torah is one of the 13 Principles of Faith. But let us say, for argument’s sake, that theoretically it were possible for the Torah to change . Since the Torah is eternal we would have to say, as Rabbi Yosef Albo does in his Sefer Haikarim, that the Torah does not change intrinsically, rather its translation into this world changes. After all, the First Man was not allowed to eat meat, but Noach was. Good and well, but how then do we prevent spurious claims?

Sinai set a standard of proof which would have to be superceded. The level of prophecy would have to be higher, and there would have to be more than one nation of 3/1/2 million or more people involved. If the miracle of the manna lasted for 40 years, we would have to have miracles that lasted even longer. Most important of all, just like we all heard G-d speak to Moses, face to face, we would have to all hear G-d speak to this new claimant .

Well it is clear that nothing of the sort has ever happened. Nothing nearly of the sort. The Torah remains, true for the ages, without anything but the most insipid challenges to its eternal relevance.