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Adapted from the Speech of Rabbi B. Horovitz at the 5th Anniversary

Dinner of the

Jerusalem Academy, October 7, 1975

I begin by giving thanks to Hashem for having granted us this great occasion, the fifth anniversary of the Jerusalem Academy. Our sages teach us that if a person has studied for five years and he sees a sign of success, then he should continue. Baruch Hashem, we have reached this stage. It has been a difficult road, but filled with Nissim from Hashem.

I wish to express thanks to all my beloved colleagues, without whose help this would not be possible. I wish to express thanks to all our supporters who have given us the material possibility and the moral encouragement to continue building up this vitally unique Yeshiva. I wish to thank all the previous speakers for their kind words concerning the work which Hashem has helped us to do. Above all I wish to express thanks to the Hubert Family, without whose initial sponsorship, constant encouragement and support, we would not have been able even to begin or to continue with this undertaking.

Noach and Avraham

Yeshivat D’var Yerushalaim represents the difference in principle, if not in actuality, between Noach and Avraham. In the corrupt generation of the Deluge, Noach walked with G—d rn inr ‘p’ nc (Bereshit 6:9). He saved himself and his family whilst everyone else drowned. In a morass of immorality, he was able to protect himself in a tightly sealed ark filled with light (ri:’n nvn ,ri) but was not able to save others. Avraham, from whom Am Yisroel stems, walked in front of G—d &7 rnr (Bereshit 17:1); he went out to the idolators and the corrupt nations and called upon the name of Hashem. This was symbolised by the tent of Avraham, which had a door on every side, open for all. The Teva (Ark), on the other hand, needed to be closed and secure.

Here we have the same parallel. The majority of Yeshivot fulfill the principal and important task of keeping our youth close to Torah and away from the negative influences of the secular environment. We must have a solid basis of Noach before we can progress to Avraham. We must be able to protect those who have been brought up with the light of Torah from childhood and see that it remains pure and protected from the weakening influences of permissive and atheistic society.

At the same time, we must not forget that the People of Israel were created to become a Kingdom of Priests (Shemot 19:6). It is out duty to progress from this stage and to concern ourselves with those who are drowning. We must have closed Yeshivoth so that nothing of the impurity of the environment will enter into the minds or hearts of our children. But we must also have open Yeshivoth so that those who are in danger of becoming lost entirely to any Jewish identity will find their way back. Avraham Avinu kindled a light in front of Hashem, a fire that warmed him, but was able at the same time to bring the warmth and the light of Hashem’s teaching to those who were still out in the cold darkness.

The Task of a Modern Yeshivah

Whether they come from Russia, the capital of materialistic-atheism, or from western society, a center of permissiveness, the majority of Jewish youth today are over-satiated at an early age with materialism and seek for some spiritual meaning in life. Therefore, there must be a place of warmth and light which will be open to receive them as they are and gradually bring them back to intellectual, emotional and practical involvement with the perfect program of life — the Torah — revealed to us by our Creator.

This is the program of Yeshivat D’var Yerushalaim, the Jerusalem Academy of Jewish Studies. We purposely keep the two names. The barrier today is so great that most of “the outsiders” who are in the cold, once they hear the name “Yeshiva” immediately identify it with the concept of the ark, which is closed to them. In order that they can find their way over the threshold, we have to keep the name “Academy”.

The late Ponevezer Ray, 7”T, once asked the question why is it that we find today that so often a young person from a totally assimilated background comes to a Yeshiva and, after a very short time, the Torah is something natural to him. So often we are amazed by our own students. We see what a natural love they have for Torah and Mitzvot although they have had no background. Where does this come from?

He answered that in the holocaust one million Jewish children were killed. What happened to the souls of those children? Most of those children were born and reared in very religious families. Those Neshomas are hovering in the atmosphere, and they are waiting for young Jews who will be ready to receive them, who will be ready to continue the holiness which was placed into them from birth and which they had for the first few years of their lives. Thus, we see in many of the young people such a natural love for Torah and Mitzvot that it is like watching a constant miracle.

We hope that the time will come when this miracle will be a total one that will cover the whole of our people and that we will be able to participate in a spiritual return involving the youth in Eretz Israel, the young Jews who come from Russia, and the young who come from the western world, and thereby we will all together witness the coming of the Meshiach. For it is not just we, the People of Israel, who wait for the Meshiach. The Meshiach is waiting for the youth of Jewry to return to G—d, and then the final redemption will come.




Once G-d’s existence is acknowledged, it follows logically that the Purposeful Designer would, in creating a free and conscious creature, have revealed to him the purpose of his life, and the manner of achieving this purpose. A G-d who cares about man is likely to have revealed Himself to His favorite creation.

Furthermore, it is impossible to find the purpose of life within life itself. Therefore, man must go to the transcendent sphere to find it. The Almighty reveals His Being through the mind and emotions, nature and history, but the most direct revelation is by means of prophecy, whereby G-d reveals His Will. The Torah (Teaching) revealed to Moses, represents the objective Will of G-d. This blueprint for civilization, recorded in the Pentateuch and transmitted through Jewish tradition was revealed by the Omnipresent Eternal, and has universal and eternal application.

‘Even communication of man with man is not understood. Why should we think it impossible for G-d to speak to Moses loud words capable of being heard by man, simply because we cannot understand how this can be done by a Being devoid of man’s speaking and hearing? We can no more understand how the mechanical action of our sensiforous organs arouses consciousness of that which is present in somebody else’s consciousness by means of loud, spoken words. Even matter and force are not understood clearly, and transcend human understanding.’ (S. Hirsch). To the Divine Torah, we apply the principle: ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord’ (Isaiah 55:8). The Torah transcends human reason. Much as the contradictions that appear in the sphere of nature and life are solved in the ‘noumenal’ world of G-d, so also are the apparent difficulties in the Pentateuch resolved by realizing that the Torah is beyond external reasoning. It is only the ‘outer garment of the Torah’ which is completely within the reach of reason.

It is in this sense that man is commanded not to go after your own heart and your own eyes after which you go astray (Numbers 15:39), i.e., not to follow materialistic reasoning. The serpent representing materialism began its ugly work by sowing seeds of doubt into man’s mind, saying: ‘Did G-d really speak?!’ (Genesis 3:1).


An ethical system which is not divinely founded gives little motive or power for the good life, and is bound to be relative and subjective, uncertain and unstable.

Revelation: Witnessed by All Israel

The people of Israel, numbering millions, attained a prophetic height at the foot of Mount Sinai, when they heard the first part of the Ten Commandments declared to them by G-d. By allowing the people to hear the very same words that G-d spoke to Moses, a basis was provided for the people to believe in Moses as G-d’s permanent spokesman, ‘that the people may hear when I speak with you, and will also believe in you forever’ (Exodus 19:9).

The whole nation was thereby brought to the conviction that the Torah was the Revelation of G-d. The Torah, itself, predicts that the truth of the Revelation at Sinai would be challenged in the course of history, as is happening today: ‘Lest you forget the things your eyes saw, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your children and your children’s children… the day that you stood before the Lord your G-d at Sinai’ (Deut. 4:9,10).

The fact of Revelation is assumed as basic by the Prophets. ‘The whole line of prophets, from Moses to Malachi, is based upon this same assumption, and shows unanimity of thought that cannot be a delusion’ (Sanday). An unbroken chain of live Jewish historical tradition, extending over three thousand years, is based upon this Revelation.

The outstanding trait of the Jews throughout history is their ‘stiff-neckedness.’ ‘The hard-hearted scepticism of the Jewish mind shows that they must have been overwhelmed by a shared experience such as the Revelation at Sinai to depart from the vicious immoral cults that held the surrounding nations in their grip’ (Biberfeld). The Jewish people accepted the Torah only because they were convinced of its Divine source and authority.

Uniqueness of Torah

The uniqueness of the Torah is evidenced by the fact that it was in violent conflict with the tendencies of the environment and trends of the age. It formed a sharp contrast to the surrounding nations and could not have arisen from them. The Babylonian civilization was based upon corrupt polytheism and magic. Egypt’s idolatrous cults, land-owning priest-caste, and embalming (based on the concept of physical immortality), were all in opposition to the spirit of the Bible.

Leading modern scholars state: ‘Between Judaism and the coarsely polytheistic religions of Babylon and the old Egyptian faith, there lies an impassable gulf. I can only find one explanation, unfashionable and antiquated though it be. In the language of a former generation. it marks the dividing line between Revelation and unrevealed religion’ (Sayce). ‘If you wish to show the divine superiority of the Bible, place it among the sacred books of the East’ (Mueller). ‘The new discoveries support the claim that Israel was in, but not of, the ancient world’ (Pritchard). ‘The uniqueness of Biblical Revelation has been emphasized by contrast and comparison to the newly understood religions of ancient peoples’ (Elder). Magic and mythology, so prominent in ancient oriental literature, are entirely absent from the Bible.

The Bible possesses an objectivity unmatched by human documents. Nowhere do we find the blunders of people, of its kings and leaders (including Moses and David) so clearly condemned as in the case of the Hebrews, nor do we find elsewhere such unbiased reports of defeats. The Bible is the only historical record that places that places universal values and objective truth above nationalism. No other nation would have made the humiliating claim that it had descended from slaves.

The people of Israel cannot be regarded as the source of the Torah, as they were not up to its standard. They were a stiff-necked people, difficult to educate, immersed in idol-worship, as is shown by the sin of the Golden Calf. We must distinguish between the Torah, and the life of the Israelites. which sometimes reflected the influence of the time, such as elements of polytheism and promiscuity.

The modest, truth-loving Moses, who protested against the acceptance of his task, could not have imposed upon the people. The Torah stresses that he was, by nature, a poor speaker, lacking self-confidence, one who required recourse to the advice of the Midianite. Jethro, in order to administer justice among the people. Moses would not have led the people to wander into the desert, not knowing how to feed them and where to lead them, for forty years, unless by Divine command.

Hidden Structures and Number Patterns

The Divine Designer of the pattern of Nature (that which is revealed through His works: — ‘How great are Your works, 0 Lord, how deep are Your thoughts’ (Psalms 92:6).

Anyone contemplating the vastness, grandeur and harmony of the multiple phenomena of the cosmos, recognizes the One who created and constantly sustains the Universe: ‘How great are Your works.’ The scientists who discover the deeply hidden mathematical formulae and associations in astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and other sciences, thereby demonstrate the power of the Divine Thinker and Mathematician in the cosmos:

‘How deep are Your thoughts’ and mathematical links. (‘Thought’ = mahshava, root ‘hashav’ to reckon, to bind together.)

The Divine Designer of the pattern of Morality (that which ought to be is revealed through His words: — ‘The Teaching of the Lord (the Five Books of Moshe) is perfect, it inspires the soul’ (Psalms 19:8).

Anyone studying its religious, philosophical, ethical, psychological, social, legal, historical and scientific aspects is inspired by its truth and harmony, and recognizes its Divine Author. The scholars who have delved deeply into the text of the Torah, have found hidden harmonious structures and numerical associations and patterns which demonstrate the Divine Thinker and Mathematician behind the Torah: Uncover my eyes, so that I may see hidden marvels out of Your Torah’ (Psalms 119:18).

The early Torah scholars were called ‘scribes’ or ‘calculators’ because they counted the letters of the Torah (Talmud).

Six represents the three dimensional concrete world of Nature — Creation in 6 days = 6 directions of the material phenomena.

Seven, multiples of seven, and seven squared occur: in repetition of key words and phrases; spacing of letters to produce hidden code-language; as sign of complete retribution; in connection with oaths — it has the same Hebrew root — hishave’a’, in sanctified time periods: Creation, Sabbath, Festivals, Sabbatical and Jubilee Years, nuptial rejoicing, period of mourning, purification process; sacred vessels such as the Candelabrum.

Seven = the centre point, which is abstract, but co-ordinates the six = The mind, the noumenon, the image of all the six directions as one unit = The Mind which conceives and co-ordinates the Time-Space of the Cosmos and brings harmony to the variety of phenomena. It appears to be the symbol of Divine harmony; the word sheva may be connected with save’a = satisfaction, fulfilment, completeness. It has a parallel in Nature in the seven colors of the spectrum and the seven notes of the seven octave.

8 (7 x 7) + 1 = 50 = The Supernatural dimension, represented by miracles, and the miraculous Revelation of Torah.

10 = the number of plagues, Divine words of the Decalogue, minimum number of righteous people to save the city, number of units for measurement of Sanctuary, separation of a tenth in tithing. The word ‘eser’ may be connected with ‘osher’: wealth, abundance, unity in multiplicity.

7 x 10 = 70 nations, souls of Jacob’s tribe, elders of Israel = transformation of individuals to group harmony.

26 = the numerical value of G-d’s ineffable name, and its multiples, especially 26 x 10 x 7 = 1820 as a hidden formula. This is the number of times G-d’s name is mentioned in the Torah. Recently, many remarkable hidden messages have been uncovered by the mathematical and computer analysis of numbers of words, letters, numerical and digital values of letters and words, and spacing of letters.

The Divine origin is proven, since no human agency could possibly have introduced such intricate mathematical structures at such unimaginable depths while preserving a normal and readable narrative on the surface. A change in only one letter would suffice to throw out all these very delicately balanced, intricate and interlocking calculations. To produce such a system would lie beyond the range of the most powerful computer’ (Rav Aryeh Carmell, z’t’l’).


Archaeological discoveries are continually establishing the astonishing accuracy of innumerable details of the Bible. Archaeology shows how unique was the religious insight of the Hebrews, and provides cause for the belief that in the realm of religion they were indeed a chosen people.’ Nowhere has archaeological discovery refuted the Bible as history.’ The careful accuracy of the Bible has been repeatedly confirmed. The writings as an historical source are absolutely first-class’ (Elder).

The traditions of ancient peoples concerning Creation, Paradise, early man, the longevity of pre-Diluvian man, the Flood, etc., as well as the religious and legal heritage of antiquity, corroborate the Biblical account which has retained these traditions in their original purity, and refers to Divine Revelation of Laws and Truth to Adam and Noah. It has been shown that all men are members of one family, that mankind spread over all the continents from one starting point, and that the cradle of the human race was in the region of Mesopotamia. The Tower of Babel, the common origin and later confusion of languages; ‘the table of nations in Genesis 10 which shows a remarkably modern understanding of the linguistic situation in the ancient world that stands absolutely alone in ancient literature’ (Albright), have been confirmed by recent discovery. Many details from the lives of the Patriarchs — Ur of the Chaldees, the Battle of the Kings, the destruction of the Cities of the Plain, names of persons. places and general background in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, and the famine of Egypt, have found corroboration. The same applies to the Egyptian enslavement of Semites, the building of ‘city-stores,’ the oppression, the plagues, the Exodus, the desert wandering, the fall of Jericho, and the conquest of Canaan, as well as hundreds of names and details from the background of this period which are mentioned in the Pentateuch.


Science is confirming many aspects of the Bible. The Scriptures assume that the Universe is immeasurable, that some of the innumerable stars have dark bodies, that the earth is a globe suspended in space, and that there are Laws of Nature. The Bible speaks in language relating to man, as we do ourselves, so it speaks of the sun ‘rising.’

Many scientists today confirm the fact that G-d created the world. Modem scientists write: ‘Mosaic cosmogony is in amazing accord with modem astronomical cosmogony’ (Armellini). ‘No scientific description of the existence of the Universe, and of the man who does the explaining, has superseded the first words of the Bible: In the beginning  G-d created the heavens and the earth!’ (Moulton). ‘The Creation Chapter is a marvellous anticipation of the modem view of creation as moving from the less to the more articulate, and reaching its consummation in man’ (MacFadyen). It is a ‘picture of the universe passing from the more random to the less random state, each step showing a victory of anti-chance over chance’ (Jeans).

The order of created beings is in accord with scientific discoveries. Formless energy was followed by light independent of the sun, which is now known to come from outer space. This first act of creation might explain why the equivalence formula for energy and mass is related to the velocity of light — e=mc2. ‘There are two kinds of waves, bottled-up ones which we call matter, and unbottled waves which we call radiation or light. These concepts reduce the whole universe to a world of light potential or existent, so that the whole story of creation can be told with perfect accuracy and completness in the words ‘Let there be Light!’ (Jeans). The creation of the firmament was followed by sea and land formation, grass, herbs, trees, fish, reptiles, birds, mammals and man. This order is confirmed by geological and biological discoveries. ‘The sciences of geology and biology were unknown in the time of Moses, and yet he writes as if he knew both’ (O’Connell). ‘There was no such knowledge available then. Here we see the marks of Divine Revelation’ (L.T.More). Albright has stated: ‘Modem scientific cosmogonies show such a disconcerting tendency to be short-lived that it may be seriously doubted if science has yet caught up with the Biblical story.’

The great knowledge and understanding of physical phenomena, of agriculture, botany, zoology, genetics, medicine, hygiene and many other branches of science, are most astounding. Some laws of the Torah reveal ‘modern’ scientific knowledge. The lists of birds and mammals in the Dietary Code cover species in outlying countries only recently discovered. The categories of permitted and prohibited mammals are entirely comprehensive. ‘Was Moses a zoologist?’ asks the Talmud. ‘From here we see that the Torah is from Heaven.’ Recent research has demonstrated the ‘advanced ecological wisdom inherent in the laws of the Torah of Moses regarding the green belt of cities, the Sabbatical cycle, the intermingling of plants and animals, the dietary laws, and the laws of purity and impurity’ (A. Hutterman).

Laws of the Torah

Many of the laws of the Torah can only be understood as being directives from a Transcendent G-d. Divine origin must be assumed for such laws as the Sabbatical and Jubilee prohibitions on agriculture, which depend upon G-d’s blessing for their fulfilment. No nation of its own accord would have invented, or accepted from a man, such a rigorous discipline, covering every aspect of life. ‘It is utterly impossible to assume that the Jewish people at any time, because of fraudulent and obscure documents, should have accepted a law governing every detail of human life, and yet have remained faithful to it for thousands of years’ (Biberfeld).

Science of Man

The Torah is a comprehensive, unifying guide for all aspects of life, individual, national and universal, theoretical and practical, hygienic, social, economic and political, metaphysical, psychological and pragmatical, ethical, legal and religious. ‘One may say without hesitation that the Torah is the most complete science of man, and above all the most coherent and unified’ (H. Baruk). It is built upon the harmony of man, as science is built upon the harmony of nature. It is a science of how man is to live; unique in the annals of humanity.


The application of reason to the Torah reveals its thorough reasonability; so much so, that it has with some justice been termed the ‘Religion of Reason.’ ‘Observe, therefore, the words of this Covenant…in order that you will act with reason in whatever you undertake’ (Deut 29:8). The great wisdom inherent in the teachings and regulations of the Torah has been praised by Jewish and Gentile men of wisdom throughout the ages, and especially in modern times, when scientific research has shown the truth of so many facets of these life-directives. This was predicted: It is your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations, when they will hear all these statutes, they will say: ‘this great people is surely a wise and understanding nation…For where is there a great people that has such righteous statutes and judgements like the whole of this Torah?’ (Deut. 4:6,8).

Living Faith

The truth of the Torah and its inherent Divinity reveal themselves to everybody who fulfils it and lives by it: ‘The righteous shall live by his faith’ (Habakkuk 2:4). ‘The commandments of G-d are of goodly understanding to all those that fulfil them’ (Psalms 111:10). This ‘pragmatic’ test of truth is of especial significance in the Jewish way of life which sees little value in theory without practice. It is this that makes the Torah into a ‘Tree of Life.’ We must therefore conclude that the Torah is Divine Revelation.

WHAT IS PROPHECY? Biblical Predictions


Biblical Predictions

By Rav B. Horovitz

Some assume that prophecy was purely a matter of Divine Grace, while others hold that it was the highest stage of spiritual self-perfection. It is a combination of both: ‘Prophecy rests only upon a very wise man, strong in moral qualities, whose mind always rules his inclinations. When he enters metaphysical contemplation, sanctifies himself, and trains his mind not to think about temporal matters, but to be bound always to the Throne of Glory, the Holy Spirit rests upon him and he becomes a different man greater than all the sages. Then, as a gift of Grace, while his bodily functions are weakened, he may be shown symbolic prophetic visions in dreams. The highest state of prophetic Revelation was granted to Moses, who was the chief of the prophets, both of those that preceded him and of those that followed him. Moses saw Divinity through a transparent glass while other prophets only had a vision of Him through a mirrored glass — the revelation passed through the personality of the prophets. Hence their variety of style. But G-d spoke to Moses directly, without the above limitations’ (Maimonides).

‘Moses and the succeeding leaders of Israel were outstanding personalities whose moral integrity and love of truth is shown by every word they left behind. They levelled the most acrimonious accusations against the false prophets who dared to present their own words as Divine Revelation. They would never have presented their words or the Torah as coming from G-d if this were not the full truth’ (Biberfeld). The prophets were conscious of the over-mastering pressure of G-d who forced them to speak even against their inclination’ (Gore). ‘The prophet’s message bears the stamp of originality, of opposition to contemporary thought, of a word of G-d forcing itself to find expression through the human instrument. Here we may reasonably claim to have a Revelation from G-d to man, independent of human reflection and discovery; a downrush from the super- conscious rather than an uprush from the subconscious’ (James).


Many Biblical predictions have been fulfilled. (This is regarded as a test of the truth of prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:2:1).

The cultural development of mankind was predicted by Noah: “G-d grants beauty to Japheth, but He shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan will be their servant.

“(Genesis 9:27) Greece, descended from Japheth, has given the arts to civilization, while the world’s religious ideas have gone forth from the tents of Shem, the Hebrews. The descendants of Ham and Canaan were, for many generations, the slaves of other nations.

The 70 years exile predicted in Leviticus, Ch. 26, was literally fulfilled in the Babylonian Exile (Jeremiah, Ch. 11). The destruction of Judea by the Romans is foretold in all detail in Deuteronomy, Ch. 28. A Jewish king would be led into captivity before the ultimate destruction (verse 36), which happened to Aristobulus. “The stranger that is in your midst shall mount above you higher and higher, and you shall come down lower and lower,” (v. 43) was fulfilled when Herod, the Idumean, became king and maltreated the Jews. “He shall put a yoke of iron upon your neck... The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar... as the eagle swoops down... a nation of fierce countenance, that shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favour to the young. “(v. 50) This is a vivid description of the iron rule of the Romans, the only nation of antiquity that fought under the symbol of the eagle. The war of the Romans, the siege of Jerusalem with its resulting famine, the sale of Jewish captives to Egypt, mentioned in that chapter, were all literally fulfilled. The horror-full exile of the Jewish people was predicted thousands of years ago: “The L-rd shall scatter you among all peoples from one end of the earth unto the other end of the earth.... Among these nations you will have no repose, and there shall be no rest for the sole of your foot. But the L-rd shall give you there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes and languishing of soul.” (Deuteronomy, 28: 64-65)

The extraordinary devastation of the Holy Land throughout the centuries up to recent times, was predicted... “when they see the sickness which the L-rd has laid upon that land, which is brimstone and salt and burning, that is not sown, nor anything grows therein. “(Deuteronomy, 29: 2 1-22)

The predicted survival of the Jewish people. against all odds and despite all efforts to destroy it, with the Torah in its arms, is evidence of the truth of the words of the prophets. “The survival of the Jews, their resistance to destruction, their endurance under absolutely perilous conditions, and the fateful role played by them in history, all point to the mysterious foundation of their destiny” (Berdyaev). We are witnessing today the return of Jews and the revival of Jewish national life in the land of Israel, materially and spiritually:

“And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, you will return to your heart among all the nations, whither the L-rd your

G-d has driven you. And you will return to the L-rd your G-d, and listen to his voice, according to all that I command you today.. ..And the L-rd G-d will bring you back from your captivity and have compassion upon you, and will return and gather you from all the peoples whither the L-rd your G-d has scattered you. He will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and He will do more good and multiply you more than your fathers. He will give you increase in the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your land, for good.” (Deuteronomy 30:1-9).

The United Nations and the ideals of universal justice and peace which have become the hope of mankind (Isaiah, 2:4, 11:8; Micha 4:1-5; Zechariah 8) are clearly foretold in the Bible. The Bible has become the religious Book, per se, of hundreds of millions. It has inspired nearly every great man, and has helped to build up the culture of most nations and is the greatest moralizing power of civilization — a fulfilment of “I will bless those that bless you, and through you will be blessed all the families of the earth.” (Genesis 12:3).

Knowing G-d

Knowing G-d

by Rabbi B. Horovitz;0]

The prophet Moses posed the question, “What is G-d’s name?” (Exodus 3:13) and received the response, “I am that I am.”

This is the root of the ineffable name of G-d, referring to absolute


Hebrew for “name”, “Shem” from the root “to estimate/measure,” refers to the relationship between observer and the object -. the relativity of all knowledge.

For the truth of the rational processes of the mind, of the existence of the body, of sense-perception and of the physical universe, is based upon unproven postulates. Our rational conception of the universe is limited by time and space, and is relative. Therefore, human thoughts cannot make any claim to absolute truth. However, if everything is relative, there is nothing certain and absolute to which anything can be related.

Fundamentals can, therefore, only be ascertained by the transcendence of reason, by the existential “leap of faith,” which is not a leap in the dark, but a leap into light. Only by breaking through the natural limitations of life can the Absolute, which is the ground of existence, be reached.

If G-d is taken as the starting point of all thought and experience, the homeless spirit finds anchorage. Reason, freedom, values and concrete experience acquire a firm foundation in their relation to the True Absolute One in whose image man has been created. “Vanity of vanities.., all is vanity.., that which has been will be... there is a vicious circle in nature, society and reasoning.., all is governed by relativity... the end of the matter, when all is heard, is: Become aware of G-d and observe His commandments, for this is the whole of man.’ (Ecciesiastes)

“The fundamental of all fundamentals and the pillar of sciences is to know that there is a Prime Being who causes all things to exist. All beings only exist through the truth of His existence. If it could be thought that He does not exist, nothing else can exist, and if it could be thought that nothing apart from Him exists, He alone will exist. All beings are dependent upon, and relative to Him, but He is not dependent upon them. Therefore the truth of His existence is not like the truth of any other being.”‘G-d is truth’ for only He is Absolute Truth, all else is relative truth.” (Maimonides)

Thinkers have stated: “Credo ut intelligam.”“1 believe in order to reason.”“Faith-principles are the foundation of all philosophies.” (Richardson) “All our reasoning reduces itself to yielding to feeling.” (Pascal) Every reasoning process is based upon “a priori” assumptions.

The choice lies between faith in some false absolute, in man, or man-made idols. the construction of our hands, hearts and mind, the service of the self or its projection; or faith in the true Absolute G-d as the measure of all things.

The Ineffable Name of G-d. ‘the Lord” means. that He is the Absolute Being, ‘1 am that I am.’ (Exodus 3:14) Who gives relative existence to all things. Everything has a name. i.e. is related to and caused by other objects, but I, G-d, am the Creator of the Time-Space Continuum. The Hebrew for “to exist,”‘Haya,” is re lated to the root “Haga,” which means ‘to think.” G-d’s essence is absolute existence and thought. Modern philosophy is generally traced back to Descartes, who doubted the truth of all existence. He concluded “cogito ergo sum....! am doubting” everything, the existence of myself. the universe, “it proves that I must exist,” otherwise how could I be doubting? From the truth of his own existence, he came to accept the carol lary - the truth of existence of the universe and of G-d.

According to Judaism, “cogitor ergo sum ““I am thought, therefore I exist;” for man knows that his existence is only relative Absolute existence belongs to the One Who’s existence cannot be related to any other known cause; for He is the cause of all existence. He exists.., because He exists’ am that I am.” He thinks because He thinks His thought has produced human thoucht in man. Man exists because G-d thinks that Hr so exist (Haya). This name means absolute existence, even if there is no world nor man, — The Transcendence of G-d.

The other name of G-d. “El-him “is mentioned in the opening verse of Genesis’“In the beginning. G-d

— El-him — created the heavens and the earth.” The Hebrew word comes from the root “El” meaning a force.” El-him are the non-material forces known to mankind through Nature. This ‘immanence’ of one G-d within the world, is described in the singular Hebrew verb Who ‘created’ (bara’) in the beginning of (time & causality) the heavens (space) and the earth (matter),

Many scientists have declared, “the purpose of science is to find the harmony of nature.” (Einstein) The forces of gravity and electro-magnetism, from nkuement of the galaxies to movement in the subatomic universe, all follow a unified system, for One G-d is constantly creating all.

The iiolvtheists. riot recognizing the unity be- :ween the forces, set up idols that represented power. love, fertility, or wealth. These are the strange Elohim, described with a plural verb, revealed in Nature.

This is the root of Pantheism which existed as a philosophy in Greek times and was developed into its modern form, “De,us sive nattira”. G-d is equivalent to nature,” by Spinoza. It is assumed by the scientific explanations which use the words “the wisdom, laws torcos and harmony of Nature,” with a capital “N’” This is ihe “immanence” of G-d.

It found its religious expression in the worship of nature and the natural inclinations of man in ancient paganism and modern materialism. For if all nature and experience are holy, then the good and bad are equally holy. One can trace a line of descent from Spinoza’s pantheism via Hegel to Marx and Lenin’s communism to modern materialism which exclude any Spiritual Being.

Dualism, which divides the divine spirit from matter, was expressed in ancient times by the doctrine of Zoroaster, which regarded the powers of good and evil as light and darkness which wage an eternal battle. Some eastern religions accept this dualistic nature of the universe and man, opposing body and soul. and pursuing self-abnegation. It is also apparent in the Christian view that man gains redemption by cutting himself off from the influences of the body. The Pope and saints did not marry, in order to be released from the bonds of Satan. The realm of the temporal is divided from the spiritual: — “render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar, and unto G-d that which belongs to G-d.”

‘Others, Deists, admit that there must be a G-d Who created the world, but He is separate from, and indifferent to his creation. Or, they reject creation and believe in the eternal existence of matter and of


Among thinking men, only the most extreme atheistic materialists would describe the world in terms that there is no G-d at all. But there are some base people who do not attempt to think. “The base man says in his heart there is no G-d.” (Psalms 14:1) This expresses ancient and modern atheism. The base person rejects every moral authority by saying to himself, “only I am the power,” as though he were


Unlike the complete falsehood of Atheism, these views of Pantheism. Dualism and Deism are deceptive half-truths. Judaism represents the full truth, which is described in recent philosophy as “Panentheism,” a combination of Deism and Pantheism, the Transcendence of G-d with His Immanence.

The Jewish Mystics declare. ‘He surrounds all worlds, but He also fills all the worlds.’‘The world is not His place, but He is the Place of the world.’ This is not in a spatial, materialistic sense, but as a concept. ‘He dwells high up in the heavens, but comes down low upon the earth.” He is both ‘out there’ and ‘deep within.’ (Psalms 113:5) He is the furthest and the nearest, the highest and the lowest. Though beyond us, He is closest to us. “1 am the Lord (transcendent source of existence — the deeper meaning of the Ineffable Name), and there is none else, apart from me there is no G-d (El-him meaning ‘forces” — the immanence of G-d.” (Isaiah 45:5) From both angles. “there is no other”; the unity between the two is produced by constant creation (creationism).

“Hear 0 Israel. the Lord is our G-d; the Lord is One.” (Deuteronomy 6:14) “The Lord,” Whose name is not pronounced because He is above language and experience, is also ‘G-d, El-him,” Who reveals Himself through language, nature and histor. This unity is shown in that He is the cause of all existence. “The Lord is One.”



Before commencing upon the tale of the Deliverance from Egypt, the Haggadah declares : “Scripture speaks of four varieties of children : the wise child, the wicked child the simple child and the child that is unable to ask questions.”
The Seder affords us a first-class example of the methods by which we should educate our children. It is in fact an ultra-modern pedagogical text-book. The purpose of the Seder is to teach the younger generation the story of the Exodus from Egypt.
Formerly most school subjects were taught only according to text- hooks—history was either just verbally presented by the teacher, or the pupils read history-books, and that was that. In modern schools, however, visual and other aids are used, and pupils often re-enact historical episodes.

Concrete Method
The most modern and perhaps the best. although not always an easy, method of education. is to make the subject matter as concrete as possible. In Montessori and kindred schools, the children are taught everything through their five senses—-beginning with the differentiation of colours, tastes. touch, smell and so on: and through these concrete means they are led to an understanding of the abstract.
In learning the history of the Exodus from Egypt, the Jewish family re-enacts the scene. Not only do we hear from the mouth of others and
rend the story ourselves. but we eat the same bread of affliction, we taste the bitterness of bondage in the bitter herbs; we are made to feel concretely the transformation from slavery to freedom, reclining like free men. This is especially important for the child. who grasps abstract and historical matters far better by concrete means.
But this is only one of many points in which the Seder appears to us as a most up-to-date pedagogical manual. Another matter upon which stress is laid throughout this grand night is the asking of questions by children.

Most children are naturally curious and they soon reach an age when they are always asking “Daddy. why this?” and “Mummy, why that?”
I Jnfortunately. this healthy curiosity is often a bother to teachers and parents, who just have not the time or patience to answer the inquisitive youngsters. But if children do not ask wherefore’s and why’s they will never become wise.
Modern educationalists all agree that on the whole, a child’s questions should never be ignored. On the contrary, children should be encouraged
to ask questions. Teaching by lecture is replaced by teaching by discussion, the more modern method, because it arouses active thought. The four questions at the beginning of the Seder and the elements introduced for the purpose of arousing the child’s curiosity, illustrate this.

Many Types
A further principle of education may be gleaned from the statement concerning the four sons. We must accept the fact that there are all sorts of fish swimming in the sea, and in the same way, there are many kinds of human beings. There are all types in the younger generation, and there should, therefore, also be different approaches to these different types. Solomon in his wisdom said : “Educate the boy according to his way.” Since the attitude of the wise son differs from that of the wicked, the approach towards them should also differ.
As any teacher will tell you, the main trouble about present-day education in large classes is that one has to deal with so many types: at the same time. From a truly educational point of view, these types require different methods. A more individual education is therefore much to be preferred. The latter is possible in the home and the wise parent is well advised not to adopt the same approach to different types of children.
‘The wise son—what does he say ? “What mean the testimonies, the statutes and the judgments, which the L-rd has commanded you?”
This is the real pupil who wishes to know everything. ‘Then shalt thou explain to him all the laws of Pesach, down to the minutest detail, such as the custom to eat nothing after the Paschal meal.’
‘The wicked son—what does he say ? “What do you mean by this service? He says “you,” not “we,” and as he excludes himself from the general body, he offends against a principle of faith. You should turn on him and say, “It is because of that which the L-rd did for me when I came forth out of Egypt.” For me, not for him, for if he had been there, he would not have been worthy to be redeemed.’
More than lies in the words of the wicked son lies in the tone of his voice. He comes with a prejudiced attitude—what is the use of religious services—and feels that it has nothing to do with him. The best thing to do with children who have such an approach to study is to make them feel that they will themselves be isolated and suffer for it if they adopt that sort of attitude.
‘The simple son—what does he say ? “What is this?” “And you shall say unto him. By strength of hand the L-rd brought us out of Egypt.” The simple person requires an equally simple answer, bare of details.
‘And to him who does not know how to ask questions—You should open the narrative to him, as it is said, “And you shall tell thy son in that day saying, it is because of that which the L-rd did for me when
I came forth out of Egypt.” The child that does not yet ask questions, should be told the matter simply, but in such a way as to encourage questioning.

Child and Man
To some extent we are all children. The child is the father of the man, and the man retains the tendencies of childhood throughout his life. In the Jewish community, one also meets with all types—and maybe to some extent we all have a mixture of the characteristics of these four sons. We must learn to form an approach to them all, helping the wise to solve their problems; pointing out to the wicked that their anti-human or anti- Jewish attitude will only bring them isolation and that they will fall into the pit they have dug for themselves; explaining matters in a simple manner to those who are simple, and arousing the spirit of enquiry where it yet slumbers.

As far as Jewish religious questions go, the same attitude should be adopted. Notice that the one who does not know how to ask is given the same reply as the wicked one for he who could really learn how to ask questions, but never bothers to learn, will also never be able to enter the religious community. The attitude towards him should be quite different, but the fact remains the same, that he who does not bother even to ask questions concerning Judaism will in the end also be isolated from the religious community of Israel.

Let us thus make the Seder of Pesach the educational text-book upon which to found the generation of the future.