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Torat Emet Natan Lanu—Harmonizing Bereishit with Contemporary Science

Torat Emet Natan Lanu (He gave us an authentic Torah) is a song frequently sung in Sephardic synagogues and especially at Congregation Shaarei Orah. Many Sephardic Jews, especially Moroccan Jews, affirm that Emet Torateinu HaKedoshah, that the Torah indeed is completely true, before they say the bracha recited subsequent to receiving an aliyah.

The Torah is definitely true. We should, however, be prepared to explain to those who ask us about the compatibility of the Torah’s presentation of the creation of the world with contemporary science. We need not be experts regarding this issue but we should at least know directions in which to point those who pose the questions (especially if one’s children pose the question).

My favorite resolutions to the conflicts appear in the writings of Dr. Gerald Schroeder, an Orthodox Jew with two Ph.Ds from MIT. His writings appear in his works “Genesis and the Big Bang” and “The Science of God.” I present a simplified summary of his primary ideas in an article archived on the Shaarei Orah website at http://images.shulcloud.com/202/uploads/Divrei_Torah/Introducing-Dr.-Schroeder.pdf.

However, it is also important to be aware of alternative approaches presented by other Orthodox thinkers. In an article soon to appear on the Shaarei Orah website I summarize alternative approaches to Dr. Schroeder. In that article we summarize the writings of Rav Moshe Meiselman and Rav Natan Slifkin as well as that of Professor Aviezer Ravitzky of Bar Ilan University. Whatever approach one is most comfortable with, it is worthwhile to be familiar with each of the main strategies on how to deal with the conflict. Different solutions are suitable and satisfying for different people depending on their intellectual (and psychological) makeup.

Although Hacham Ovadia Yosef expresses serious halachic reservations about saying Emet Torateinu HaKedoshah after one’s aliyah, all Jews should consider adopting this practice at least in thought. At a time when critics of Orthodox and traditional belief abound, it is very healthy for us to affirm, at least in thought, our belief in the truth of our beautiful Torah. What better opportunity to do so than the time when one receives an aliyah?

Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic congregation of Teaneck.

By Rabbi Haim Jachter

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