Ask The Rabbi

Ain't It The Truth

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Belief in Biblical Miracles

Name Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

At times I find that I question some events mentioned in the Torah because they are out of my realm of experience. Examples might include Noah's ark, Abraham having a circumcision at age 100, Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt, the splitting of the Red Sea, etc. How does one overcome doubts about events that the Torah describes as being true. I wish to believe in all that the Torah describes but I find that this requires overcoming a great deal of internal questioning. Thank you for your assistance.


Dear Name Withheld,

We know that the Torah's accounts are accurate because we have an unbroken chain of tradition originating with eyewitnesses. The splitting of the sea, for example, was witnessed by an entire nation, our ancestors, who passed this information along from generation to generation until our day. For a fuller development of this idea, please see "A Historical Verification of the Torah".

But your question goes beyond this. It sounds to me like you're asking: "Logically, I accept our history as accurate. But still, emotionally, how do I internalize a belief in events that are beyond my realm of experience? I know the Torah is true; now how can I feel that the Torah is true?"

To try to answer you, let me draw some parallels from science and technology.

Imagine you go to a far off land where the people are totally cut off from the rest of civilization and you tell them about telephones. They might not believe you. Then you tell them that people have been to the moon and back. They may think it's a miracle. Now you tell them that a motionless rock is really a whirling frenzy of particles invisible to the eye: Protons, neutrons and electrons. They might think you're insane.

There are many such examples. People believed that man could never fly and that iron could never float. Some people refused to believe in steam-powered trains even after seeing one. "It's witchcraft," they said.

So, it can be difficult to internalize things outside the realm of our experience. This is normal and to be expected.

Our sense of something being possible or impossible is a subjective intuition. Accepting something as true, then, should be based on logic and observation, not on intuition and imagination.


 
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