Mass Revelation at Sinai

An argument for the truth of Judaism.

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Let me give you another analogy.

Imagine for a moment that you read in the paper this morning that a tradition has been passed down claiming that one hundred years ago, in San Francisco, gold trees covered the landscape for one day, and this incredible phenomenon was witnessed by three million people. Would you believe it? I would assume not. Why? Because even though you were not alive then, if such a wondrous event were to have occurred, you and everybody else would have heard about it.

How could such an event have occurred without anybody ever having mentioned it? If I told you that the story is false, and only one person, my Aunt Sheila, saw a single gold tree appear in her back yard, could you ever deny it? Who knows? There were no witnesses.

The Jewish Claim

We the Jewish people make such a claim: Millions heard God speak. How could such a claim ever be accepted if it did not occur? At what point in history could any person ever come forward and say, "Hey, Jews your ancestors heard God speak!"

Our national response would have been: "I think we would have heard about it had it really occurred."

This is true whether it happened a hundred, five hundred, or three thousand years ago. The claim is too strong--which may explain why no other religion has ever even attempted to make such a claim of the truth.

If you're suspicious of this argument, and feel as though such a claim could be made by any person in history at any time, you're not alone. The Torah itself is worried about charlatans coming along and making false claims about having spoken to God.

"Ask now regarding the early days that preceded you, from the day that God created man on earth, and from one end of the heaven to the other end of the heaven: Has there ever been anything like this great thing, or has anything like it ever been heard? Have a people ever heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire as you have heard, and survived? Or has any god ever miraculously come to take for himself a nation from amidst a nation, with challenges, with signs, with wonders, with war, with a strong hand, and with greatly awesome deeds, such as Hashem your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? You have been shown in order to know that Hashem, He is God! There is none other beside Him (Deuteronomy 4:32-35)."

What's incredible about these words is that God is saying: "If you ever find anybody who makes such a claim that they also heard God speak to them, then our claim is obsolete."

Let's say for a moment that the Torah is just a cute collection of stories written down by humans, with one of those stories being that this book is written by God. Who in their right mind would ever be foolish enough to add that if this claim is made again, the original claim is obsolete? If the human authors fooled so many people, what makes them think that in a few years somebody else wouldn't come along and do the same, thereby making their original claim worthless?

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Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff

Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff is the educational director of the Jewish Enrichment Center and Birthright Israel Next - New York, where he teaches, counsels, and leads strips to Israel for Birthright Israel Alumni. He is also on the faculty of Stern College for Women.