People wonder whether emunah was easier in earlier generations than in current times. Undoubtedly, this generation faces some significant challenges regarding emunah. However, opportunities also abound to enhance one’s emunah. Here is a top-10 list of emunah openings of our time. Note: this is a top-10 list as I see it; readers are encourage to discover and articulate their own top-10 emunah list.
10) Archaeological discoveries—in recent years, new archaeological discoveries support the Tanach. For example, in 2015 the seal of Chizkiyahu HaMelech was discovered. Just this past month, the Jerusalem Post reported on breakthrough findings from the era of David HaMelech that are in accord with the Biblical record. Academicians used to dismiss David HaMelech as a mythological figure. They certainly do not do so any longer, with more and more evidence emerging that is very much in harmony with the Tanach and our tradition.
9) The Big Bang Theory—while scientists since Aristotle until 1965 insisted that the world is eternal, the Big Bang Theory proves there was a creation. In the words of Dr. Gerald Schroeder, an Orthodox physicist who addresses issues between science and Torah, the Big Bang is the best news for religion since Moshe Rabbeinu descended from Mount Sinai with the Torah. For further discussion, a visit to http://geraldschroeder.com/ is encouraged.
8) A precedent from the Gemara to address every new phenomenon that has emerged in the past century and a half, as we discussed in last week’s column.
7) The Orthodox community is the only thriving Jewish community. Various deviationist groups have emerged over the millennia, have thrived for a while, only to wane into oblivion over time. It was quite a challenge to remain loyal to Orthodoxy in the 1950s, when many saw no future for traditional Jewish life. Fast-forward 60 years and now the opposite is true.
6) The incomparable depth of Torah Learning: A Torah Academy of Bergen County graduate who recently completed Harvard Law School told me that the level of analysis at Harvard is dramatically exceeded in every yeshiva at which he’s studied. He feels that even the shiurim at Torah Academy exceeded in both depth and profundity the legal analysis at what is arguably the country’s finest law school. I have heard similar observations made by other Torah scholars who have attended top law schools.
5) The dramatically lower divorce rate in the Orthodox community as compared to the non-observant and non-Jewish community. To a great extent, this points to the Divine wisdom inherent in the laws of family purity.
4) Study of science—the complexity of creation allows one to marvel at the Creator. As Rav Elchanan Wasserman has observed, to believe that the world came about on its own without a director is irrational.
3) Reading Benny Morris’“ 1948,” both the political and military miracles evident to the reader with an eye open to the bizarre. The accumulation of so many highly unusual and unexpected events points to Divine involvement tilting the events in our favor.
2) Reading Michael Oren’s “ Six Days of War”—God’s hand is evident, as in the 1948 War of Independence, from the many bizarre circumstances that can be explained reasonably only by concluding that God’s Guiding Hand manipulated the situation in our favor. Our victories in 1948 and 1967 are a continuation of the miracle of the survival of the Jews despite intense persecution throughout the millennia.
1) The State of Israel, the ongoing “Rabbim b’yad me’atim,” the few defeating the many phenomenon that has been ongoing for nearly 70 years. Moreover, with the State of Israel we see the fulfillment of many Biblical prophecies, such as we will be exiled from our land but eventually return.
Every generation has both its challenges and opportunities regarding emunah. Hashem maintains a level playing field in each generation, leaving, on one hand, a challenge to believe and yet more than enough evidence of His existence and the Divine origin of the Torah. Hashem hopes and yearns for us to make the correct decision and reach out to Him.
Rabbi Haim Jachter is the rabbi of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck.