Living up to The Truth

Translator's Foreword

The Color of HeavenArtscroll

 

Living up to Truth

TRANSLATOR'S FOREWORD

Before you, the reader, embark on this most fascinating journey through significant events of the history of the Jewish people, with its purpose being the revelation of the verification of the Torah, and thus the truth of Judaism, it is relevant to first determine your objective, and subsequently your mind set in approaching this most significant of topics. There are people who although they attempt to, are unable to see the truth of events. So, before continuing, you should examine how you evaluate new information. It is crucial, especially in the area that we will be discussing, that you approach this information with an open mind, for if you do not, you will automatically reject it. As an example, consider this question: Do you associate positive or negative feelings with the term 'wedding,' - does the word 'wedding' generate in you feelings of joy or feelings of despair?

Let me illustrate what I am trying to express in terms of an appropriate mind set that an individual must necessarily have before commencing reading of the essay at hand by way of the following proposition: Let E be an event such that E elicits an emotional response from the viewer. Let's also suppose that there exists a certain truth to the quality of E. Now, let there be two people, A and B, that are viewing E such that from the outset, person A will have an open mind towards E, and person B will not have an open mind towards E. Most likely, person A will be able to see the truth of E, and person B will not be able to see the truth of E. That is the proposition.

Now, let me depict this by way of example. Let's suppose that the event in question here is a wedding. Now, a wedding is a very emotional event that generally leaves strong emotional feelings in the heart and mind of the viewer. I think it is fair to say that weddings can be considered to be events, or occasions, that are joyous. That is the quality of truth to be attached to a wedding. Now, there are two individuals at this wedding. The first individual, person A, has no pre-conceived prejudices towards weddings and arrives at the wedding with an objective mind set able to distinguish the quality of truth that we attached to a wedding, namely, joy. The second individual, person B, has not necessarily had the best of experiences at weddings. Person B has been divorced three times, and on person B's most recent attempt to get married, was left at the alter. Therefore, person B cannot be considered to have the appropriate mind set to appreciate the quality of truth to the wedding: joy. Most likely, Person A will be able to see the joy in the wedding, and thus the truth, and person B will not be able to see the joy in the wedding because he/she harbors negative feelings towards weddings, and thus, no matter how clear the quality of truth is at a wedding, person B will simply not be able to see it. Person B will not be able to be objective, and thus will not see the truth.

Similarly with respect to this essay. The event at hand is the essay. The topic of the essay is the historical verification of the Torah - and in a sense, G-d, a topic that has been known to elicit quite powerful emotional responses from individuals throughout history. There exists in this essay a certain quality of truth, namely, evidence and logical support that verifies the truth of the hypothesis. Now, one can either approach this essay with an open mind, or one can approach it with a closed mind. There are those individuals who have made up their minds that there is no G-d, and who even after support and proof is given that validates G-ds existence and the Torah, will say "Well, that's fine, but I still don't believe." Those individuals are not investigating for the truth. Those individuals have already made up their minds whether or not there is a G-d, and thus the effort put into the proof is futile. If there is a table in a room, and I say "Oh, wow, isn't that a nice table?" and you reply, "Tables do not exist. However, occasionally I hallucinate and think that I see a table. When this occurs I immediately go and lie down and try to regain composure." I don't think that any proof I would give to you that tables indeed exist would sway you towards the truth. If you are operating within this frame of mind, nothing I do will convince you that tables exist.

Now, some may try to raise an objection to what we have said. Some might say "Well, that's fine, and it makes a lot of sense, if you believe in the original premise as to the quality of truth to an event. Maybe I disagree with that premise, maybe I don't think that events have any specific quality of truth. Maybe I don't think weddings are joyous events at all." Now, to this individual I have only one response. You do believe that events have a certain quality of truth attached to their essences. Your intuition tells you they do. Let's think back to the beginning of the foreword. I asked you a seemingly out of place question about whether a wedding elicits in you feelings of joy or despair. How did you answer that question? You answered that a wedding gives you tremendous feelings of joy and happiness. So, based on your own feelings, and your own intuition, the premise holds. We are not simply raising an objection to hear ourselves speak. We are not interested in raising objections to satisfy some need we have not to hear the truth. Save that for the PC crowd in America. We want to see that given certain circumstances one option has more evidence and support in its favor than does any other option. And, based on your own intuition, the proposed proposition is most valid. This is not me speaking for you and telling you what you are thinking. This is your thoughts, your mind, your heart, your intellect, your emotions, and your intuition that have lent support to this thesis.

I only hope that I have been able to convey to you, the reader, the importance of a proper frame of mind upon entering this most stimulating task that is ahead of you. It is very easy to fool others, and even yourself, into truly believing that you have analyzed certain information or events objectively. Yet, if one really is able to stand back, and give oneself that objective outlook, he has hurdled the most difficult step to belief. In his book The Closing Of The American Mind, Allan Bloom writes "Yet if a student can -and this is most difficult and unusual draw back, get a critical distance on what he clings to, come to doubt the ultimate value of what he loves, he has taken the first and most difficult step toward the philosophic conversion." One can say or believe whatever one wants with respect to objectivity, but if one hasn't truly become objective in his analysis, he will never let go of a belief that he possesses. Only you can determine the true frame of mind that you possess. Whatever your mind set may be and whatever you decide to do in terms of proceeding, it is important to always keep in mind what we have discussed here in the foreword. If at any time you seem to be rejecting an argument outright for reasons that do not necessarily seem altogether adequate in your eyes, refer back to this short foreword and try to determine for yourself if you are being entirely objective in your thoughts and analysis of what is written. I can assure you that immense care has been taken in what has been written here in this essay, and that apparent deficiencies in the arguments may often be resolved by simple introspection on the part of you, the reader.

The best of luck in your quest for truth,

Joshua Hermelin

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