Ancient Solutions for Modern Problems

That material was taught to the Israelites during forty years in the desert; history’s longest graduate school program.

Let’s imagine that you made some incredible discoveries of inestimable value. Recognizing that children are your link to immortality, you desperately wish to be sure that your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and further, will be able to use the information you have uncovered.

You sit down to write it up. Then, in dismay, you realize that there is no assurance that your descendants will understand English. Maybe your grandchildren will immigrate to another country and their progeny will read another language. It is also possible that in the same way that we barely understand English from 500 years ago, maybe our current form of English will be utterly incomprehensible to future Americans. What can you do?

Aha! Another idea strikes you. You sit down in front of a video camera and you describe your discovery and all the vital data. But wait a moment! Had your grandfather passed down to you valuable information recorded on early twentieth century wax cylinders, how would you go about listening to it today? Technology marches on and it is possible that your descendants would have no way to view or listen to your meticulously recorded treasures. What is more, this doesn’t solve the language problem should English no longer be used by your offspring.

Then you are struck by a dismaying thought: even if your descendants could read your book or understand your video, how can you be sure that they would be motivated to do so? After all, did you ever read your grandmother’s diaries?

You do see the challenge, don’t you? What are you going to do? Happily, I have an idea for you.

First, forget about doing this project in English which like all languages keeps changing. Well, actually, there is one exception – Hebrew. A Jewish school boy today can read and understand the words of Jeremiah the prophet. Hebrew, the Lord’s language is unique. It never changes.

The next question is to ensure that your descendants will care. Will they be motivated to explore your ideas? One answer would be to cunningly contrive to write your material with many layers of meaning. In this manner, your grandchildren who read it while young, will grasp the top-most level – the superficial narrative.

Perhaps your book might have a sentence like this one: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Children who read it are introduced to an idea which is captured in a word picture. They can get it. It is really clear – in the beginning God created everything.

As they grow older and mature, they are able to grasp the next level of meaning and those familiar words from their childhood now take on new relevance. In the beginning God created all things tangible and physical, but He also created all things spiritual, heavenly, and intangible. Okay, that’s kind of interesting. So at the root of it all, God is even responsible for things like love and loyalty, not only mountains and oceans.

Time goes by; they reach middle age and become wise. Astonishingly, they discover yet new levels of meaning. Not only did God create spiritual things that are heavenly and intangible but these things impact your life every day. There are spiritual forces and powers in the world. Keep on reading and studying this book and you will gain the ability to integrate them into your plans.

But wait! There’s more. Not only are you going to build in multi-layered meaning (I didn’t say this would be easy) but you are going to include so much encoded information that reading this book will become an exciting voyage of discovery. Every sentence offers limitless possibilities of new discovery as your descendants enthusiastically unearth your secrets.

Letters are going to have numerical equivalents which will point the reader at important connections. Words used in unexpected ways will forge new meanings. Grammatical anomalies, apparent errors, and even the shapes of the letters themselves will lead to treasure. Even reading some words backwards will throw beams of laser-like clarity onto reality.

Sounds like quite a challenge, doesn’t it? In fact, I doubt that this lies within human ability. It might be a task only for God. And who else has such valuable secrets of life as to make this entire arduous exercise so worthwhile?

The final piece of the puzzle is that God didn’t want to leave to chance the likelihood of mankind discovering on its own all the many layers of meaning and all the hidden clues of relevance.

He dictated the Bible to Moses during the daylight hours on Mount Sinai and during the nights he drilled the great teacher of Israel on the hidden meanings and multi-layers found in every letter and word. All that material was taught to the Israelites during the forty years in the desert, history’s longest graduate school program. From them it was handed down, father to son and teacher to disciple, and known until today as the Oral Torah or as I sometimes call it, ancient Jewish wisdom.

Well, a hundred generations or more have come and gone since this book was presented to humanity, and we still pore lovingly over its pages extracting incredible discoveries from its infinite depths, just as our grandchildren and theirs will also do.

Now it’s your turn. Dig deep and with passion for the immortal treasures that will enhance your life.

This article excerpted from Thought Tools Volume 1: 50 Timeless Truths to Uplift and Inspire


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5 thoughts on “Ancient Solutions for Modern Problems”

  1. Virginia Turner

    We must be on the same wavelength, Rabbi Lapin. I was deep in contemplation on how to communicate important information to future generations when language may not be as we know it. A world-wide calamity. Adults stricken and dying and only the very young with limited vocabularies survive. I know, sounds like science fiction; but if the mind can conceive it, it can materialize. That’s one gift of a sort of creation we are capable of. But the huge difference is we can only make something out of something. Never can we speak it into existence out of nothing.
    I love reading your material and listening to you. I sometimes envy people who can read Hebrew, but I’m very happy when I come across a tidbit or two of Ancient Jewish Wisdom from you and other teachers in the internet world. So glad I live in this age. So unhappy that this world seems to be falling apart. So fearful that America seems to fit into the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Just got done reading them. And also so thankful and grateful that the great Creator provided a path of salvation in a book of instructions for the human race.

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    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you for your lovely letter, Virginia,
      It’s not looking good but God is at the wheel.
      Cordially
      RDL

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  2. But I thought Hebrew has changed over time. A quick search on the topic reveals that there is classical Hebrew and for a time Jews spoke Aramaic. Perhaps you mean the strictly religious language that the religious elders continued to pass down. Is it like in some way how the Catholic religion still uses Latin?

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    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Jason–
      No, nothing like the Catholic Church and the Latin liturgy. Hebrew is as alive today as it was in the days of Jeremiah and all the centuries in between. There has always been a written (cursive) form used for ‘non-holy’ applications. But otherwise, the shapes and names of the letters has been uniform for over two millennia. One of the amazing things about Hebrew is that there is no other language or culture wherein a child today can read what was written two thousand years ago. I kid in London can make no sense even of Shakespeare which was only 400 years ago, let alone Old English. A kid in Athens cannot read the works of Homer. A kid in Beijing cannot read the writings of the Zhou dynasty…the language has changed too much. But a Tel Aviv street urchin can read the exact words of Jeremiah just as he wrote them. No, it has not changed. Yo were misinformed; shockingly not everything on the Internet can be trusted.
      Best wishes
      RDL

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