Torah Min Hashamayim

Essay on the Necessity of Scriptural Law
Rabbi Hayyim G.Z. Solomon


Section 1: Introduction

Scriptural Law has historically played a dominant role in the daily life of the Jew and in the functioning of the communal life of autonomous and semi-autonomous Jewish communities. The provenance and authority of Scriptural Law is of prime import, when considering the adherence to, execution of, continuity of, and durability of this law.

Traditional views of the provenance and authority of Scriptural Law hold that the Law is divine in origin – Torah Min HaShamayim – Torah from Heaven.  Scriptural Law as divine in origin therefore carries the weight of divine imprimatur and command. To understand why the acceptance of the traditional view is important to the function of Scriptural Law, it is necessary to understand Law in a broader sense; to understand general categories of law, their provenance and sources of authority.  In particular, five descriptives will be used to categorize law: provenance, purpose, (source of) authority, power (of enforcement), and malleability.  With this basis, an examination of the role of Torah Min HaShamayim, its authority, provenance and degree of inviolability may be accomplished.

Section 2: Classes of Law

We will include in our discussion several classes of law as broadly defined by Rabbi Joseph Albo. Rabbi Albo was a 14th -15th century philosopher and Jewish community leader in Aragon, Spain. Rabbi Albo was involved in some of the last disputations between Jews and the Church in the 15th century. Being concerned with the difficulties of the earlier disputations, and the methodologies and arguments used by Jewish disputants to combat, especially, the attacks coming from the Jewish converts to the Church, Albo sought a basis of understanding of Jewish principles of faith that would provide the believer unshakable pillars on which to support his belief in the fitness of the Jewish religion. The other great Jewish Medieval philosopher-rabbi to whom we will refer is Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, of Spain, Israel, and lastly, Egypt, of the 12th century. We will also borrow liberally from the writings of John Locke, a 17th century English philosopher and legal theorist, specifically his Second Treatise on Government. As necessary, we will avail ourselves of definitions in the modern parlance.

Rabbi Albo, in Sefer Ikkarim, Book 1, Chapter 7 gives three classes of law, being   Natural Law, Social Law, and Divine Law. We will add to these three an additional category related to Social Law: Positive Law.

Natural Law, as defined by Albo, is that which is “equal for all men and all times, in all places.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines Natural Law as, “A law or body of laws that derives from nature and is believed to be binding upon human actions apart from or in conjunction with laws established by human authority.” The Thompson-Gale Legal Encyclopedia includes in its definition of jus naturale, “The unwritten body of universal moral principles that underlie the ethical and legal norms by which human conduct is sometimes evaluated and governed.”

So we have a sense, therefore, that Natural Law is that law which Man, left to his ‘Natural Devices’ would come to understand as governing rational human behaviour. Locke, which we will discuss further on, understands Natural Law as that which is in force before men come together in a compact; such compact being a necessary precursor to civil society. Such law is ‘discoverable’, in the parlance of modern jurisprudence, inherent in the condition of Man, and not established by any legal processes. Natural Law’s provenance is the natural and inherent state of man. Its purpose, to be blunt, is to describe the interactions between absolute sovereigns of one. Its authority is simultaneously that of Nature, but also of the individual, as it derives its power only from the hands of the individual and that of unavoidable consequences.   As Natural Law is neither legislated nor bestowed, its malleability is only that of the Human Species in the State of Nature. Should mankind evolve into a inherently differently behaving creature, then perhaps will Natural Law also change, but not until then.

 

Social law (Albo’s usage also translates to ‘polite’ law), for Albo, are those strictures ordered by a sage or sages, for a particular place and time, like those that those that are seen in various States, established according to the reason of men, without input from any divine source. Positive Law, in its most general definition, is that law established by governments through codification into written, or statutory, law. The clear demarcation between Social Law and Positive Law is to be understood in the context of the modern state, i.e. with the separation between Church and State, and the general mixed nature of ethnic groups with a State comes the lessening of the influence of religion and culture norms on legal practice. We should understand Positive Law therefore as that law implemented by the State to further the ends of the State, that being variably, Preservation of Life, Liberty and Property of the individual, and those functions necessary for the execution of these ends. In this definition we are borrowing heavily from Locke.

Social Law, on the other hand, are those statutes, mores, customs and practices that have, from time to time, had the status of Law through positive legislation, but more often nowadays enforced through social pressure. From ancient times, through Albo’s life, and up to very nearly our own day, there was little to distinguish between Positive and Social Law, insofar as Social Law was supported by State coercion. E.g. the Sumptuary Laws which were so common in the Medieval and Renaissance periods.   Roman Law itself was very close to having the separation between Positive and Social functions, insofar as Roman Law would have jurisdiction over issues of property rights and rights of physical damage, and even the Roman expression of Sumptuary Laws were designed as an economic check. Social customs, however, were permitted to be enforced by local authorities. Conversely, in our own day and country, we still have the occasional civil authority that restricts commerce on Sunday, in respect of the Christian Sabbath, not designed as a check on commerce per se.

 

It can be a little confusing. Albo’s description of the purpose of Natural Law, which we will discuss in detail below, overlaps with Positive Law. Also, Albo’s definition of Social Law overlaps what could readily be identified with Social Law as described above, but also includes some Positive Law aspects. Unless specified, we will use Locke for Positive Law, and use the strictly ‘cultural’ aspects of Albo’s Social Law for that selfsame category. Social Law and Positive Law can therefore both be understood has having provenance in the will and mind of Man, in some collective. Their authority is that lent to it voluntarily by those in the collective, and involuntarily by those subject to the coercion of the collective. Their malleability is absolute, insofar as both are wholly creations of Man and subject to modification according to the needs and dictates of the collective. The purpose of Positive Law, in brief, as stated above, is the preservation of Life, Liberty, and Property. Social Law serves to construct the cultural framework of the collective, and includes all such rules that are outside the concern of Positive Law. We will, however, discuss their purposes in greater detail below.

 

So how do we get to an understanding of the description and purpose of Divine Law? Positive and Social Law, as we have stated above, are the creations of Man.  There is no deity involved, necessarily. Natural law certainly does not pre-suppose or require the existence of Deity. The first, most simple answer, therefore, is any law whose origin is not of man, and whose provenance is unrelated to or undiscoverable from the condition of man. One begins to attain an understanding of the provenance and role of Divine Law, if one first presupposes the existence of Deity. If there is a Deity, then if that Deity is an active agent, perforce one must have a relationship with Deity. If the Deity is to be something other than a Man writ large (ala Greek and Roman mythology), then this relationship must be on such terms which can only be according to Deity’s reason and understanding.   Provenance divine, q.e.d.  Jewish law, which traditional view has understood as divine law, must therefore, if it is to have any standing, must be Divine standing.

 

Divine Law, in the words of Rabbi Albo, ibid, “is what must be arranged from G-d, through means of prophets such as Adam or Noah, and like that conduct and religion that Abraham used to teach and to accustom men to serve G-d.” And further, “What must be arranged from G-d by means of a messenger sent from Him, to be given religion, by means of that like the Torah of Moses.” 

In Albo’s usage, therefore, Divine Law is just that: its origin is Heaven, its authority is the authority of G-d, and its power that of the Creator. Malleability (or not) is according to Divine Decree. The function of Divine Law we will discuss in the more detailed examination of the purpose of the various categories of law, generally.

Section 3: Power, Authority, but mostly the Function of Law

Each of the four categories of law has their own specific functions, powers and authorities. Examining them in detail will give us insights into their respective roles and limitations.

According to Albo, the intention of Natural Law is to provide distance between men and various acts of criminality, such as thievery, pillaging and murder, and to draw men closer to justice. Albo sees these laws as without origination, and necessary for the existence of the very basics of human civil interaction. Locke, similarly, saw in Natural Law only that which could be expressed from the individual’s hand. For both, the provenance is inherent to the condition of man, and the authority is at the level of person. The function is to express the mutual rights and responsibilities inherent to the individual vis-à-vis his fellow.

Albo’s view of Natural Law is just a little broader in scope than is Locke’s, as we will see.

The State of Nature, according to Locke, is a state of ultimate equality. No individual having greater or lesser rank, power or jurisdiction than does his fellow, each thereby has the “uncontrollable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions…that law (which) teaches all mankind, that be all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.” Continuing, “And that all men may be restrained from invading others rights…the law of nature be observed… (it is) put into every man’s hands, whereby every one has a right to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree, as may hinder its violation.”

Though this may seem akin to the popular concept of the ‘Law of the Jungle’, or ‘Might makes Right’, it is rather a more congenial conception. True, an individual’s rights are only assured insofar as he himself is able to assert and protect them. However, the underpinnings of the ‘Natural Society’ assume an impulse to restraint of crime, enforced by a certainty of retribution, effectual or otherwise.

It is this concern of effectual retribution and deterrent, as well as the balance and range of the impulse against crime, which leads Locke to hypothesize the genesis of the Civil Society.   We easily see the failure of Natural Law to achieve a reasonable facsimile of civilization. Locke describes the ‘State of War,’ wherein an individual, and those so disposed to join with him, might, in order to defend life or property, seek to destroy that which threatens, with only himself as final arbiter of the justice of it.   Whether successful in defense, or damned in offense, there is not end to it. Locke states, in Chapter 3, Section 21,

To avoid this state of war (wherein there is no appeal but to heaven, and wherein every the least difference is apt to end, where there is no authority to decide between the contenders) is one great reason of men's putting themselves into society, and quitting the state of nature: for where there is an authority, a power on earth, from which relief can be had by appeal, there the continuance of the state of war is excluded, and the controversy is decided by that power.

So it is in this very natural defect of the State of Nature that the purpose of Positive Law comes out, to provide that system by which a construct, called the State, to which the individual must submit himself and surrender his natural authority and power, is so constituted, through positive legislation, as “to set down what punishment shall belong to the several transgressions…to punish any injury done unto any of its members…all this for the preservation of the property of all the members of that society.”

Albo saw ‘Polite Law’ similarly, in that it functions to protect from humiliation, assumably by the stronger, and provide for benefit, in the context of a political compact that gives venue for suitable means of settling differences. We need to remember, however, that Albo includes in this category both Social Law and Positive Law, with the basic building blocks of Positive Law already established in Natural Law. For Albo writes also with respect to Polite Law, that “…it is necessary for the removal of iniquity and the maintenance of justice; best found in the reason of man, and of no need for a man living alone in the wilderness,” (Locke’s ultimate ‘State of Nature’). In general, Social Law functions to provide the individual with a cultural identity and context. Whereas Positive Law is concerned with property rights (allowing the body of the person to be considered ‘property’ in this context), Social Law is more concerned with dictates of behaviour which fall outside of economic concerns. That a man and woman, engaged in a personal compact out of which will result children, such behavior might necessitate the institution of a Positive Law construct called ‘marriage’, the purpose of which is the economic viability of the offspring, and also perhaps the woman. That some cultures, on grounds of ‘morals and ethics’, allow for plural marriage, and others forbid is an example of Social Law – even in situations where such a law may be counter-productive economically.

Locke’s explanation of the provenance and authority of Civil Law (i.e. Positive Law) may serve to underpin both Positive and Social Law, to whit:

But though every man who has entered into civil society, and is become a member of any commonwealth, has thereby quitted his power to punish offences,… yet with the judgment of offences, which he has given up to the legislative in all cases, … he has given a right to the common-wealth to employ his force, for the execution of the judgments of the common-wealth, …herein we have the original of the legislative and executive power of civil society…

Second Treatise, Section 88

We understand thereby, from both Albo and Locke, that the provenance, authority, power, and durability of such Positive and Social Law constructs are wholly of Man, subject to definition, revision and execution by Man, determined solely by his reason, investigation, and experimentation into systems fitting for the commonwealth of human society. This is a voluntary association; each man is free to quit it, and return, if he can but find a little spit of island unclaimed by king, republic, sanhedrin, senate, or tribe of fuzzy-wuzzys, to the State of Nature, and so be governed solely by Natural Law. Not in Natural Law, nor Social Law, nor Positive Law, is it possible, in Albo’s words, to find fulfillment of the soul. Rather, to varying degrees and in different venues, these classes of law serve “to maintain the species of man.”

Divine Law is the category, that for its discussion, we must rely primarily on Rabbi Albo. Its definition flows from the discussion of its purpose, to whit, to provide a straight path for man to follow, one that grants ‘true success’, that being the success of the eternal soul. Divine law makes known the ‘true good’ to which man must exert himself, and the true evil from which he must guard. The purpose further, to establish such a community that is suitable for man, peaceful, where evil will not disturb the order of the community. The construct of Divine Law, corresponding to the State, being that the construct of Positive Law, is that corresponding construct of Divine Religion. We are to understand that an operative difference between Divine Religion and The State is that the former provides an outcome which is True Success, whereas the latter, being a construct of man, is subject to the vagaries and mistakes inherent in any human system.

And how are we to understand Albo’s meaning of ‘True Success’? Albo explains that, “Even if it is sufficient to determine through philosophy and research those correct actions vis-à-vis natural man, it is impossible to sufficiently know those things which are acceptable to G-d (by means of investigation or through experimentation). There is no human intellect sufficient for the determination of this knowledge – rather this knowledge must be bestowed by G-d in the aforementioned manner.” The rationale assumed here is that those actions which are good in the eyes of G-d are those actions which lead to ‘True Success’.   Granting that G-d exists, and has a design for man, that design is knowable only to G-d, and the means to fulfill that design are not discoverable (in contradistinction to the dictates of Natural Law) or determinable (in contradistinction to the outcome of Positive Legislation) but rather only bestow-able through the beneficence of G-d. Later, Albo writes, “

The divine inspiration which we said was necessary in order that we may know through it what things are acceptable to G-d and what things are not, man cannot acquire by himself without divine consent.”

But this is not a circular argument! The underpinning of Albo’s philosophy is that true success, the ‘achievement of the fullness of man and his purpose’, is the fulfillment of G-d’s desire for him, which is knowable through the influence of G-d, and through which is found the fulfillment of the desires of the soul, and the sustenance of the soul through eternity.  

We have learned out the following: that Natural Law are those codes of first behaviour and response, inherent in the condition of man, that describe the best workings of man to provide for a minimum of peaceful intercourse. Such laws might include prohibitions against murder, thievery or kidnapping. Indeed, several of those laws are those very laws that our Sages have including the Mishpatim Benei Noach. One telling counterexample is the Noahide Law to establish just courts. This kind of law, though applied to the earliest of legal systems, is more aptly categorized as Positive Law. Positive Law, as we have discussed, is that body of statutory code designed for the construction and maintenance of a society in which the life, liberty and property of the individual is protected against the arbitrary infringement of another; and in the case of such infringement, punish the transgressor and cause just restitution to be granted the injured party. Social Law has a different function, to provide guidance for fitting and pleasant behaviour, outside of what might strictly be associated with issues of property or personal rights. In either case of Positive or Social Law, the provenance is human, the authority is that which is granted by the individual to the appointed magistrates of the society, and the longevity of these legal systems that of the generative society. Finally, Divine Law includes those strictures, whose provenance being greater-than-human, describe codes of behaviour understood to be desirous in the eyes of the Creator. The reach of these codes is not subject to restriction by human artifice or understanding – rather, that which the Omnipresent has chosen to express, is accepted as the best and truest model of human conduct. Such codes are not subject to human review or modification, nor are they subject to abrogation by any agent other than the Divine. They provide an unshakeable substrate for human society, and a means to achieve communion with the Divine. The desire of the soul to have communion with G-d is fulfilled through means provided by G-d for that purpose. The details of such communion, their revelation and expression, will determine the particular characteristics of Divine Law as expressed for a particular society. We should not be concerned with the obvious difficulties in such a statement. That Divine Law might vary as a function of time and place does not contradict its inherent and necessary perfection. This, however, must be assumed as a postulate, for it is beyond the scope of this single presentation to discuss this point. Suffice it to say that Rabbi Albo addresses this issue, and lays it to rest. We will rely on his assumed proof, and now move on to a discussion of a particular Divine Law.

 

Section 4: Definition of Torah Min HaShamayim

The concept of Torah Min HaShamayim encompasses several principles. First, that there is a body of law, tradition, ethics and teachings comprising an entity with the label ‘Torah’. Second, that this Torah was originally comprised of a written component (תורה שבכתב, Torah sh’b’Ch’tav), and an orally transmitted component (תורה שבעל פה, Torah sh’b’alPeh). Third, that this Torah was given, complete, to Moshe at Sinai, in the fashion of a dictation, by G-d. Fourth and last, that this Torah was faithfully transmitted, both written and oral, through the generations until this day.

A very succinct phrasing of this concept was formulated by Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (Maimonides) in the 12th century of the Common Era:

 

אני מאבין באמונה שלמה שכל התורה המצויה עתה בידינו היא הנתונה למשה רבנו עליו השלום (רמב"ם י"ג עקרים, השמיני).

I believe with full faith that all of the Torah found now in our hands, it was given to Moshe our teacher, peace be upon him.

Maimonides, also known by the acronym Rambam, was the Jewish Renaissance Sage par excellence. A scientist and a rationalist, as well as a premier posek of his generation, he was the author of the Mishneh Torah, a work that has stood to this day as a pillar on which the life of the observant Jew is built. Torah Min HaShamayim (we shall use Torah henceforth, as per Rambam) is to be understood, in its classic sense, as a body of precepts, attendant narrative, explications, and methodology, given directly by G-d to Moses at Sinai and transmitted in-errantly to us today. Rambam, as we shall discuss later on, was convinced of both the divine source of Torah, and its ultimate rational utility.

Torah has laws concerning damages to property. Torah deals with issues of marriage and adultery. Torah speaks to appropriate (and otherwise) methods of worship. Torah dictates the respect due a parent by a child, and how that respect is enforceable by law courts. Torah informs on the types of animal produce which may be eaten, and how such must be prepared for consumption. These are obviously practical points. Some points that may seem less practical: Torah tells how repentance and forgiveness for transgressions may be accomplished. Torah teaches authorized service to G-d, through sacrifice and prayer. Torah teaches laws that restrict the use of fruit from young trees, or produce from fields of mixed seed. How can the latter be understood?

And in what category of Law does Torah fall?

We have discussed the provenance, authority and power of Natural Law. By definition, Torah cannot be considered such. Though the necessity to forbid certain actions (e.g. murder) might be a point of intersection between Natural Law and Torah, it is not necessary that the two overlap entirely, one being a complete subset of the other. Certainly, Torah is not inherent to the human condition. The very fact that Torah is traditionally held as being given to Moses negates that possibility. Though, through the courts established through Torah, men are agents in the enforcement of its laws, in the traditional view the authority of Torah is part and parcel with the authority of G-d. Torah designs a multi-tiered power structure. Some laws are enforced by Divine Will (e.g. karet-cutting off of the soul; also, death by the Hand of Heaven); some punishments (whipping, fines, etc) are granted the human courts to execute. So in these three descriptives of law Torah is not categorize-able as Natural Law.

We have established, through their very existence, being themselves constructs, that humans need two kinds of law: Positive Law (for civil function), and Societal Law (for cultural identity). It is clear from the content and context of Torah that Torah encompasses the concerns of both categories. Yet, like that of Natural Law, there is no overlap in authority or power, for in the cases of Positive and Societal Law; both derive from man, but by traditional understanding, that of Torah is from G-d. (We will for now, ignore the Midrash of Har Sinai over the Israelites or a discussion of free-will vis-à-vis acceptance of the Yoke of Torah, lest we never finish this presentation.) It also includes those aspects attributed to Divine Law, insofar as Torah dictates G-d’s desire of man in his worship and service.

As one could read into Torah a system which functions as a Positive and Social Law construct, with a layer, or interweave, of Divine Law, is it possible to separate these functions? In Torah, there is a class of laws referred to as mishpatim - statutes. In this context, mishpatim are to be understood as 'rational laws'; laws that serve Positive Law function. Laws against murder, rape, or theft; laws requiring courts, charity, restitution of property damage; all these are laws that should be found in any Positive Law construct.   Their purpose, like most all Positive Legislation, is understood to be for the ultimate security of the individual inside of a social framework.

There is also a class of law called 'chukkim' - ordinances. These laws are not so easily understood as to their purpose. Why are we enjoined to wave vegetables while standing in a makeshift booth? Why can't we eat cheeseburgers?

Rambam, in the later chapters of the Part 3 of Guide to the Perplexed, deals somewhat with this question, "Do the laws of Torah have intrinsic purpose, or is their purpose only that insofar as obedience to them is obedience to G-d, whose wisdom is incomprehensible."

Rambam holds that indeed, most all believe that the laws, mishpatim and chukkim, have a reason and purpose, though sometimes that purpose may be unknown and unknowable to us, given the aforementioned incomprehensibility of Divine Wisdom. That they are unknown does not mean that they are without purpose, of course, for to assume so would be to assert that G-d's actions are purposeless.

Rambam discusses two examples. In the first, Rambam quotes a 'very strange' passage from Bereshit Rabbah, "What difference does it make to G-d whether a beast is killed by cutting the neck in the front or in the back? Surely the commandments are only intended as a means of trying man; in accordance with the verse, 'The word of G-d is a test'." One could ask, “Why not the back, why not decapitate?" The first answer could be, to teach obedience to G-d's will. This is simple and straightforward. But in fact, the slaughter in front results in a more consistently easy and effective slaughter, with a minimum of pain, accomplished by only a knife. Rambam sees this example and its explanation as being in consonance with the verse, "for it is not a vain thing for you."

The second example Rambam uses is a better example of a difficult-to-explain chok-ordinance. Granted that sacrifices themselves serve a purpose, why should any particular sacrifice be of a lamb, but another be of a ram? Why not reverse them? Or even offer a calf or kid? Rambam cautions against trying to assign specific purpose or meaning to the exact type and count of any particular sacrifice. Rather, he says

           Note this, and understand it. The repeated assertion of our Sages that there are reasons for all commandments, and the tradition that Solomon knew them, refer to the general purpose of the commandments, and not to the object of every detail. 

And how does Rambam describe these general purposes? First,

 

...That the general object of the Law is twofold; the well-being of the soul, and the well-being of the body. The well-being of the soul is promoted by correct opinions communicated to the people according to their capacity....The well-being of the body is established by a proper management of the relations in which we live one to another....The latter object is required first: it is also treated [in the Law] most carefully and most minutely, because the well-being of the soul can only be obtained after that of the body has been secured. For it has already been found that man has a double perfection: the first perfection is that of the body, and the second perfection is that of the soul....The true Law, which as we said is one, and beside which there is no other Law, viz., the Law of our teacher Moses, has for its purpose to give us the twofold perfection. It aims first at the establishment of good mutual relations among men by removing injustice...Secondly; it seeks to train us in faith...

We have in Torah a system that encompasses all of the needs of man outside the State of Nature: Cultural Identity, the Civilization of the State, and Communion with the Divine. There is no internal distinction between Positive Law Torah and Divine Law Torah; they are all one in the same corpus, with the function of each class dealt with as necessary.   One cannot say, “these chapters which deal with criminal penalties of theft and robbery are Positive Law, created by Man through his investigation and experimentation, but these next chapters, which speak to the appropriate way to bring propitiating sacrifice and prayer as divine service are to be understood as directly revealed by G-d to the prophet.” For to do so would unravel the tapestry of Torah, and that which is segregated as divine from that which is labeled secular, loses also the imprimatur of Heaven, wherein the assumption of the whole as sacred was the necessary first principle to grant authority. Rambam continues,

The result of all these preliminary remarks is this : The reason of a commandment... is clear, and its usefulness evident, if it directly tends to remove injustice, or to teach good conduct that furthers the well-being of society, or to impart a truth which ought to be believed...But there are precepts concerning which people are in doubt...believing that they are mere commands, and serve no purpose whatever...in their literal meaning do not seem to further any of the three above-named results : to impart some truth, to teach some moral, or to remove injustice... Such are the prohibitions of wearing garments containing wool and linen; of sowing divers seeds, or of boiling meat and milk together...(the doing of these things alone might seem to be the goal, but rather)...the Prophets in their books are frequently found to rebuke their fellow-men for being over-zealous and exerting themselves too much in bringing sacrifices: the prophets thus distinctly declared that the object of the sacrifices is not very essential, and that G-d does not require them. Samuel therefore said," Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord" ... Jeremiah says (in the name of G-d) the primary object of the (such) precepts is this, Know me, and serve no other being;" I will be your G-d, and ye shall be my people" (Lev. xxvi. 12).

 

Now we have the key! The purpose, uncontrovertibly, undeniably, is to establish a relationship between G-d and man. For if it were the discipline alone, well, Jeremiah continues,

 

“But the commandment that sacrifices shall be brought and that the temple shall be visited has for its object the success of that principle among you; and for its sake I have transferred these modes of worship to my name; idolatry shall thereby be utterly destroyed and Jewish faith firmly established. You, however, have ignored this object, and taken hold of that which is only the means of obtaining it; you have doubted my existence."

 

Teaching laws that have no clearly understood purpose, even if only to teach discipline, would not be maintainable if their origin were not divine. For a human law with no rhyme or reason would not be able to endure - it would necessarily be overthrown. Faith in a law without reason can be the only way to train such a discipline. All the more so, if the purpose is to establish a relationship between G-d and man, the source must be divine. And finally, all the laws, whether of parallel use to Positive, Social, or Natural Law, we now know also serve the higher purpose of providing a means to a relationship between G-d and His creation, Man.

 

We have discussed the completeness of the Torah package: the necessities of civil and social life, as well as the relationship between man and G-d, are dealt with. We understand that, given the necessarily limited understanding of man, perfect conception of the Divine will is impossible, and this includes those actions which are in the Divine Eye fitting for man to do in his service of Heaven. Hence, the knowledge of these actions must be given by G-d to man.

 

 

We have also discussed the mutability of Positive Law and Social Law when these are constructs of human wisdom solely. The immutability of Torah, irrespective of its provenance, is a historical necessity. Any hypothetical change in Torah must needs have occurred prior to the Babylonian Exile. After that time, the Israelites were so spread out, that had there been significant changes, we would have found, analogous to the Babylonian Talmud and its partner, the Jerusalem Talmud, a Babylonian version of the Torah, as well as a Torah Yerushalmi. This is not the case. Even the Torah that Ezra read out for the people in Jerusalem could not have been significantly different from that which the remaining exiles read in Bavel.

 

 

Prior to the Exile, there could not have been alterations to Torah in the sense that one would alter a mortal law. As Albo points out, there was an unbroken chain of judges and prophets exhorting the people to follow Torah. The Book that Hilkiah found, which caused so much distress to king Josiah, was the original book written by Moses, hidden during the reign of the evil king Menashe. When it was found it was found open to the prophesy in Devarim, describing the impending Exile, and it was this fact that was the source of Josiah’s grief.

 

 

We have shown that Divine Law is necessary for the framework of a relationship with the divine. Only G-d can tell us what G-d wants us to do. Noahide laws, with a few exceptions, are logical outcomes of a rationalized Natural Law system. This is a sufficient beginning for the development and maintenance of human society, later expressed in Positive and Social Law. However, the expression of a covenantal relationship with G-d and the fulfillment of the partnership in Creation require that the dictates of that very covenant be provided. Understanding that the primary goal of Torah is to provide a means to a relationship between G-d and Man, the necessity that Torah is of G-d, with the Authority of G-d, and durability and malleability according only to G-d's will, is evident from all we have said above.

 






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