Upon greeting the Torah weekdays and holy days, this is what Jewish congregants say: "Blessed is He who in His holiness gave the Torah to His People Israel."
This refrain dates back through the ages and affirms our steadfastness in God, Torah, Israel, Judaism. But a new gaggle of thinkers has declared all that null and void. The Torah, the Jewish Bible, is a work of fiction, say these luminaries.
There was no Abraham, no Isaac, no Jacob, no Moses, no flood (forget Noah), no Exodus, no glorious King David. The Walls of Jericho never came tumbling down. In other words, there was nothing. It's all made up. It's all a bunch of fables, myths, fairy tales, bedtime stories.
Who are these Bible deniers? Yasser Arafat? Osama bin Laden? No, not this time around. What we have here is the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. If you don't believe this, check out the New York Times, which broke the story last Saturday. Conservative Judaism has introduced a new Bible that nullifies the Bible.
Soon, all 760 Conservative synagogues (and their 1.5 million members) across the nation will be "praying" from a Bible that is not a Bible. Commentaries in this new edition — ironically named "The Tree of Life" — charge that there is no scientific proof to support the Bible. Contributors include rabbis and Hebrew professors from Los Angeles to Jerusalem. Some are famous, like Rabbi Harold Kushner, who wrote the best seller "When Bad Things Happen to Good People."
The clincher comes from Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, who says, "That the Bible is not literally true is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis."
Well, now, if it is true that the Bible is false, what a ripple effect! First, no more Judaism, since Judaism is based exclusively upon the Torah. Second, no more rabbis. (A rabbi of what? A work of fiction?) Third, no more Christianity, since that religion is founded upon Jesus and his Jewish teachings, and Jesus' lineage is traced back to King David, whom these experts dismiss as no great king but as a mere tribal leader. Fourth, no more Islam, which traces itself to Abraham.
How does God figure in all this? The Times article doesn't say. I guess I should ask "Tree of Life" contributor Rabbi Robert Wexler, president of the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. But isn't that a misnomer? I mean a University of Judaism that does not believe in Judaism? No, that citadel will have to be changed to the University of Fiction.
As for God, He, too, must be fiction, since He is known to us as the "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." So, speaking "scientifically," if there's no Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — then there's no God! What about Moses and his pride of authorship? Until this moment, we called it "The Five Books of Moses," and we believed that the Book was written "from the lips of God to the hands of Moses." In his Thirteen Articles of Faith, Maimonides, perhaps our greatest interpreter of theology, says this: "I believe in complete faith that the prophecy of Moses our teacher, peace be upon him, was true and that he was the father of the prophets that both preceded and succeeded him."
So if we are to forget Moses, we must also forget Maimonides, who happens to be absolute fact. What do we do with this paradox? The ripple effect must include the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism itself, since a synagogue, according to my dictionary, is "a place of meeting for worship and religious instruction in the Jewish faith."
Since this new Conservative un-Bible dismisses faith, well, then, there is no synagogue. Clearly, the Conservative movement has put itself out of business. No rabbis, no synagogues, no prayerbooks, no Torah, no Judaism, no Israel.
I am no great thinker, not like, say, Kushner, or Lee I. Levine, president of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who is another enabler of the un-Bible — but is it possible that science is not the last word? Is it possible that God purposely kept things hidden so that faith may triumph over reason?
The sage Levi-Yitzhak of Berditchev was taunted by a philosopher who "demonstrated" philosophically and scientifically the nonexistence of God. As Elie Wiesel tells it, finally one day the gentle rebbe looked up straight into the man's eyes and said, "And what if it were true after all? Tell me, and what if it were true?"
Yes, then where are we? It is ironic that in the midst of this new genocide taking place against Israel, dumb Jews persist in undoing the Jewish faith. The timing couldn't be more perfect for Arafat and Company.
More irony? In support of his un-Bible position, Wolpe is quoted thus in the New York Times: "Many rabbis wrote me saying, 'God bless you for saying what we all believe.'" Huh? To imagine that God blesses those who do not believe in Him — this is absurd!