Do I Believe?

The Beverly Hills tycoon was dismayed by his son’s decision to study in a yeshiva instead of joining the family business. After several years the son returned home to his father’s sardonic question: So what have you got to show for your years of study? “I know that there is a God,” replied the young man. Angrily the father leapt to his feet and pointed out the window at the gardener patiently mowing the vast lawns. “He also knows there is a God,” shouted the older man. “No father,” the boy quietly responded. “He believes there is a God; I know.”

The challenge to the person of faith is to acquire so clear an understanding of how the world really works, that God’s role becomes obvious. It’s not a matter of fervent proclamations of faith or moments of spiritual epiphany. Instead, it takes disciplined devotion. It’s not easy, but neither is body building. In both cases, devotees consider the effort worthwhile; what is more, both provide highs along the way.

The path to knowing God, for me, is the Torah which I find to be a comprehensive blueprint of all reality. I do not mean the book of stories that many view as nothing but mythology for children or, at best, for adults with childlike minds. No, I mean the majestic and mysterious data stream of 304,805 Hebrew letters making up a Torah scroll and the ancient Jewish wisdom that accompanies them.

Think of the fifty million or so lines of software code that make up a computer operating system such as Windows 10. These lines of code are written using the conventional alpha-numeric characters found on any typewriter keyboard. The lines contain many easily recognizable words like “and,” “go to,” and “stop.” It is not hard to imagine that with a little ingenuity and effort the characters, words, and numbers could be cunningly arranged to read as a piece of prose. Thus one might encounter the core code of a modern computer operating system and mistakenly assume that it just a lengthy, but badly written, poem whilst remaining oblivious to its higher software purpose. We would endlessly debate the veracity of the saga and the identity of the author without ever realizing the inestimable value the document possesses when used as an operating system rather than as an improbable narrative. The Torah is planet earth’s operating system thinly disguised as a piece of literature.

As such, its laws are every bit as binding as is, say, Sir Isaac Newton’s famous law of gravitation, published in 1666. Which is to say they do not proscribe as much as they describe. Torah laws do not inform us what we should do in the way that the highway code tells us to adhere to the speed limit. They describe the inevitability of cause and effect over time in human societies. It is mistaken to suppose that until the 17th century, Englishmen were free to float above the countryside like untethered helium balloons until Newton ruthlessly suppressed their freedoms with his oppressive new gravity law. Likewise, Torah laws are binding whether we wisely accept them as the rules of the game or whether we attempt to temporarily dismiss them with a defiant shake of the fist. It is the difference between living what seems to be an absurd and random existence and living in an ordered world of rules that are never easy but always consistent. This is a lot like the difference between a rioting hoodlum and a law-abiding patriot. One resents laws while the other is grateful for them.

Torah laws are designed to do far more than promote decency; they are intended to produce holiness. If a nation’s trendsetters are hedonistic, the people will become depraved. If the trendsetters are only decent, the people will be hedonistic. For the people to be decent, the trendsetters must be holy. This has always been God’s intended role for the Jew in every country. It also explains why those nations that played host to vital and faithful Jewish communities frequently enjoyed tranquility and prosperity.

We relive God’s giving the Torah to Moses on Sinai 3,329 years ago this Tuesday night, May 30th, during the festival of Pentecost or as we call it, Shavuoth. This was the entire goal of the deliverance from Egypt.

Without conviction in an ultimate Messianic deliverance, it would be hard for hope and optimism to exist. We would all wallow in the gloom and pessimism that now mostly pervades secular left progressivism. If the nukes don’t get you, global warming will. They are right. With no vision of a supernatural redemption down the road, we must take the only rational alternative. Overcrowding, a meteorite collision, food shortages, an unstoppable epidemic; these are only details. The one certainty is hopeless oblivion. And if the end is oblivion, well nothing much really matters in the interim. By eliminating the promise of that glorious day on which God will be one and His Name will be one, we gradually but inexorably introduce into society the nihilism of body piercings, public vulgarity, and cowardly leaders.

After a catastrophic crash, countless investigators gather to find out why the airplane fell out of the sky. I can provide an answer in only one word — gravity. The real question is why did it ever remain airborne? It remained airborne because it had engines that could convert chemical energy into thrust and wings that could convert thrust into lift. Remove any of these elements and the natural condition of gravity will predominate. I do not even have to believe in gravity for these events to unfold. The story of western civilization and America is the story of an airplane running out of fuel. What then transpires is entirely natural and predictable.

The good news is that if enough of us wish it, the fuel tanks can be replenished. Those of us who believe that America’s greatness is based on God’s protection and adherence to His codes of conduct need to acknowledge and respect theological differences while joining together to reclaim America’s moral and ethical Biblical foundation. America will once again draw nourishment, inspiration and direction from the Bible. Do I believe we can save our country by doing so? No, I know it.

This Thought Tool was previously published in 2017.

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