The Unchanged Torah

Question

Dear Rabbi, How can we be certain that the Torah we have today is the same Torah that was given more than 3,000 years ago at Mount Sinai, and has not been changed over the years? Thank you!

, , 3 months

Answers

  1. Nevertheless, we are completely confident that our tradition, including all its teachings, practices and moral principles, is a faithful, unbroken chain dating back to Sinai. (Although I’ve had cars with broken transmissions, the Torah’s “transmission” is certainly not broken. The Torah is not only unchanging but also unchanged due to a precise system of transmission.)

    Now, how do we know that the Torah has been transmitted faithfully? Well, we see Jewish communities dispersed across the globe for millennia: Europe, North Africa, Asia, Yemen, the Middle East and more. And although they had no central authority and limited means of communication, they all have the exact same Torah and the exact same oral explanations of it. (Obviously, there are some minor differences, but only the type you would expect and do not change any fundamental aspect or teaching of the Torah. What’s astounding is how few there are.) Even our Torah scrolls agree to the very last word.

    Obviously, therefore, we have a remarkably faithful method of transmission. And the reason is also obvious: We never treated the Torah like a party-game or a ‘telephone message.’ Rather: “He heard it from his teacher 40 times.” “One who studies a chapter 101 times is incomparable to one who studies it only 100 times” “His father left him hundreds of ships, hundreds of fields, but he never saw any of them — rather, he traveled from teacher to teacher and studied Torah.” “Rabbi Akiva studied 40 years, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai studied 40 years…”

    The Talmud is replete with examples of the Jewish People’s total dedication to Torah study. If we really think about the extremely “failsafe” manner in which the Torah has been passed down from generation to generation, it should not be puzzling to accept that the Torah we have today is the same Torah that we received at Mount Sinai.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team