Thursday, June 21, 2012

THE EIGHTH PRINCIPLE: The Tora is from Heaven

Last week we explained that the Eighth of the 13 Principles of Judaism asserts that the Tora that we now have is the same that was give to Moshe (see here).

Our belief is that the Tora was written by Moshe but authored by God Himself. In other words, we Jews believe that there is nothing that Moshe added from himself. No passages, words or even letters were added or written by Moshe's own mind.

There are three categories of Sacred Books in our Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). To the third category belong the books (Ketubim) which were written and authored by men who were inspired by God. This is what we call in Hebrew Ruach haKodesh or "by Divine Inspiration". Tehilim (the Psalms of King David) or Mishle (Proverbs of King Solomon), etc. belong to this category. 

In the second and higher category we have the books of the Prophets. These books were written by nebu-a or prophecy, i.e., a vision, a message or a dream coming from God. Sometimes the Prophets wrote the God-given visions in their own words and according to their own personal perception, and sometimes they quoted verbatim the Divine words that they heard in those visions (such words are usually introduced by the terms: ne-um haShem, i.e., "that says God").
The Tora or Pentateuch is unique and belongs to the first and highest category. The Tora contains the words of God Himself.  In the words of Maimonides "Moshe wrote the entire Tora with his own hand shortly before he passed away. He gave a copy to each tribe and another Tora was placed in the Ark of Testimony.... When the Tora was transmitted to Moshe, Moshe merely wrote it down, like a secretary taking dictation".