In our hearts, we want to believe that God gave Moses the Torah atop Mount Sinai. To believe that, however, we have to suspend our knowledge of science and natural events. For us, this would be unacceptable. And yet, if we no longer accept the Torah as God’s literal voice, what’s left of our Judaism?
It is my assertion that the question, “Is the Torah true?” remains off-limits to us. For without a Torah that every Jew (including Reform Jews) takes seriously, there can be no serious Judaism. Thus, each of us is challenged to answer this question instead: “How is the Torah true?”
If a poet, a scientist and an historian were to convene a panel discussion on this question, each would respond according to his/her world view. For example, viewing a city skyline, the scientist might observe technology acting against the force of gravity, permitting human beings to reside in the upper stratosphere. The historian might suggest that a hundred years earlier, office buildings rarely rose more than 2-3 stories in height and, a hundred years before that, only Native American tents and settlers’ log cabins dotted this same landscape. The poet might comment on the impact humanity has made on the natural world, manipulating air, water, earth and fire, all to satisfy our own selfish ends.
In our temple community, we have poets, scientists and historians aplenty. How is the Torah true for you?
– Rabbi Billy Dreskin