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The Spark of Truth

by Rabbi Mattis Kantor

  

Library » Holidays » Shavuot » Essays | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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He created the world. There must be a purpose. Man, the most sophisticated of creation, must be central in this purpose.

It makes sense that somehow, somewhere, this purpose is, was, can be, communicated to man.

*****

If archaeologists were to find a rock engraved with a description of a grand battle between two kings and their armies 3,500 years ago, we would assume that such an event occurred.

The description could have been the fanciful dream of an opium smoker, but how are we to know?

If historians had other clues or related information about this battle, the rock-carving would take on an air of validity.

If a similar description is found elsewhere hundreds of miles away, it would become historic fact.

Imagine, though, that there were hundreds, no, thousands, of families who owned rock-carved inscriptions, in all parts of the world, each describing the battle exactly the same way. This would certainly become a valid historic fact ascribed to that time.

Two million dissenting people (600,000 of army age) saw the revelation at Sinai described in the Torah. Yet there is no dissenting version
*****

Such a document actually exists. The Torah.

It has been all over the world, among Jews who have not communicated for centuries.

Each Torah is exactly the same as the other, thousands of miles away.

It even describes the Jewish people then as being disgruntled and dissenting.

Two million dissenting people (600,000 of army age) saw the revelation at Sinai described in the Torah. Yet there is no dissenting version.

Only one Torah.

*****

"Moses was there (on Mount Sinai) with G-d forty days and forty nights; bread he did not eat and water he did not drink" (Exodus 34:28).

*****

Imagine you are sitting with other people, trying to solve a problem. Each one thinking on his own.

Suddenly you have the answer.

You jump up and exclaim, "I have it! I have it!"

"What is it? What is it?" everyone asks.

"Sh! Sh!..."

You brush them off. You push them out of your mind. You don't want to talk. You just close your eyes and signal with your hands for them not to disturb you.

A bolt of lightning-a bright intense flash that can disappear if not given the proper attention
But you had the answer, didn't you? How can they disturb you by asking you to tell it to them?

Yet you can't. You know that you have the answer, but you can't (yet) explain it to anyone. You have to think about it. You don't even know yourself how it answers the question.

All you know is that you have the answer, and if those people don't stop bothering you, you'll forget it.

Forget it? Why? How?

Because the answer is still too abstract to be fully understood by the conscious mind.

It is like a bolt of lightning-a bright intense flash that can disappear if not given the proper attention.

(No wonder an idea is symbolized by a flashing light bulb.)

Yet in this small point, ray, or flash of intellectual concept lies the answer to the problem at hand -- that is certain. You can feel it.

How it will answer the problem is not yet consciously known, but what is certain, at this stage, is that this is the answer.

Given the undisturbed time to contemplate this bright and flashing idea, we can relate it to the problem at hand; the details soon begin to emerge, but the brightness and the sheer thrill and delight begins to dissipate.

We are now using our intellectual faculty to comprehend, and it is a different intellectual experience.

First we conceive of the new idea, and then we understand what it was that we conceived, how that bright conceptual flash relates to this problem. We can also relate it, with our comprehension, to another problem, and another and another, even though it may take opposing positions in different problems.


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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Chassidic
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Exodus
1. The miraculous departure of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage in 1312 BCE. 2. The second of the Five Books of Moses. This book describes the aforementioned Exodus, the giving of the Torah, and the erection of the Tabernacle.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.