Dear Rabbi Lazer,
I'm a history major at the University of Michigan, and Jewish, but I come from a totally nonreligious home. I'm curious to know if it's possible to substantiate the Torah from solid recorded historical evidence. Please understand, I'm not trying to be argumentative, I just want to understand, because if my heritage is authentic and not a collection of folk stories, I certainly want to know more. Thank you for your time and patience.
Kimberly from Ann Arbor
What a timely letter! This week's Torah portion contains one of the most convincing pieces of historical proof to the timeless truth of Torah. Open up your Bible to Leviticus 34:24, which states: "No person shall covet your land during your pilgrimage to Hashem's holy temple three times a year". This is a strict Torah ordinance that requires every Jew to come to the Temple in Jerusalem 3 times a year - once for the festival of Passover, once for the festival of Shavuot, and once for the festival of Succot. That means that 3 times a year, during the months of Tishri (Succot), Nissan (Passover), and Sivan (Shavuot), the entire army was required to pack up and leave the Jordan border, the Syrian border, the Lebanon border, and the Egyptian border, and report to Hashem in the Beis HaMikdash (holy temple).
The first and second temples stood and were active for a total of 830 years. Never in these more than 8 centuries, was Israel ever attacked during the above mentioned 3 months (except for once, as we'll soon see), that is, at the time of the festivals. How can that be? The borders were wide open! Since the dawn of history, The Land of Israel was the most coveted chunk of real estate in the world!
The famed 13th Century CE commentator from Spain, the Ibn Ezra, explains that when Israel comes to do G-d's will at the Holy temple, then G-d does two things:
First, He removes the covetry from the hearts of Israel's enemies, and second, He personally guards the borders.
Notice that both temples were destroyed in the month of Av, when there are no holidays. This is a historical fact substantiated by any source you like (the Talmud, Josephus, Roman Articles, and more).
The only recorded attack against Israel during the festival periods while the Holy temple was still standing occurred at the beginning of Passover, during the first temple period during the reign of King Hezekiah. Sennaherib and the Assyrian army came to conquer Jerusalem. One morning, the entire Assyrian legion failed to wake up. They were struck dead as a doornail. This is also a historical fact that can be substantiated by cross references in both biblical and secular sources.
Kimberly, this letter notwithstanding, the Torah doesn't need proof. Any individual with normal intelligence simply has to take a close objective look to see how the Torah is alive, vibrant, and true as ever. I wish you success in your search for your roots. Don't
hesitate to contact me if I can be of further help.
Saturday, February 26, 2005
// 2/26/2005 //
Reb Lazer: History Bears Witness to the Truth of Torah
Reb Lazer Brody has distributed this nice article for publication...