“I once met a Jew who told me that he doesn’t believe that Torah is from Heaven. I challenged him, asking him how he can reject the Torah if he’s never learned it and doesn’t even know what it says. He responded that religious Jews are no different. They don’t believe in Christianity, never having read the Christian Bible. What can I respond? How can a Jew say he doesn’t believe in ideas he knows nothing about?”
Rav Chaim Mintz responds:
There is an obvious flaw in this argument. The Jewish nation is unique because Judaism’s beliefs are based on the firsthand experience of the entire nation. Millions of our ancestors stood at Mount Sinai and received the Torah from Hashem. They all witnessed a unique revelation when Hashem opened the heavens and let us know without a doubt that He designated us as His chosen nation and gave us the Torah. They passed this knowledge on to their children, who then passed it on from generation to generation until today. Since it is impossible to perpetuate a lie about something witnessed by so many people, and they all told their children about the same overpowering experience, it must certainly be true.
There is also no reason to be concerned that He “changed His mind,” and chose a different nation, since Hashem told us that His Torah would never be changed and it would never be taken away from the Jewish people.
In addition, since Hashem is perfect and eternal, we know that His giving us the Torah is also perfect and eternal. A perfect Hashem doesn’t change His mind or break the covenant He made with us. This leaves a Jew with no need to investigate other beliefs, because he knows the truth, and there can be only one truth, with nothing to learn from studying other religions.
No other religion can make this claim. Christianity is based on a handful of men who spread the teachings of their new religion, claiming that G-d gave them a “new and improved” version of the Torah. But since Hashem told us that His Torah would never be changed and it would never be taken from the Jewish people, their claims cannot possibly be valid. And even according to their claim that Hashem changed His mind and decided to make changes, He would not have done so in secret, to just a handful of people.
There are Jews who make it their business to study the claims of other religions, especially Christianity, to be able to counteract the efforts of missionaries. But in truth, this is really unnecessary. If you have ever had a chance to hear or read any of their presentations, you will see that anyone with a thorough Torah education can shoot gigantic holes in their “proofs” and arguments.
In fact, I once sat next to a priest on a plane and tried asking him various questions about inconsistencies in Christianity. His response was to steer the conversation toward a different topic. As Jews, our first obligation is to learn about Judaism, and indeed, the prophets rebuke those who were content with remaining ignorant of Hashem and the Torah. This accusation still stands today. Many of us may be content with our level of Torah knowledge, but we must heed the cry of the prophets and do our utmost to learn about Judaism and know Hashem and His Torah as best as we can. The more one becomes acquainted with our rich tradition, the more he will realize that there is no need to investigate other religions because there can be only one truth.
This question and answer session is taken from Oorah’s Ask the Rabbi book by Rabbi Chaim Mintz, published by ArtScroll.