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    Bible criticism – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. How does Judaism handle the claims of Bible critics who question the text and authorship of the Torah?

    A. Judaism reveres the Torah as the word of God.

    Yes, there are non-traditional interpretations that are sometimes quite radical and “hack at the shoots” (Chag. 14b). These interpretations claim to be based on linguistic and historical evidence, though the “evidence” is sometimes disputed and some of its proponents are biased against Judaism and even against religion as a whole.

    Judaism does not object to people asking questions: what it objects to is the claim that the critics have all the answers.

    There is a Jewish tradition called Midrash which derives its name from darash, to seek out. Midrash seeks out the hidden meanings in the text. Its approach is not arrogant and aggressive but loving and patient, knowing that the Divine giver of the Torah works at His own pace and reveals His secrets when and how He chooses.

    The believer heeds Psalm 27:14, “Wait for the Lord” and remembers the advice of the Ethics of the Fathers, “It is not your duty to complete the work – but neither are you free to desist from it” (Avot 2:16).

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