I want to first preface that I am a Gd-fearing Jew that believes in both the written and oral Torah. Being that Judaism encourages dialogue and asking questions, I’ve come up with a few unanswered ones myself (as I’m sure you all have). Nevertheless, I love Hashem, the Torah and Mitzvos.
This list does not include talking snakes or Gd’s existence, which are obvious ones. It isn’t talking about Chassidishe Rebbes going to Heaven to speak on behalf of other people. It’s meant to open one’s eyes to the Torah as a non-static entity and to cause someone that already accepts the Torah “as is” to think. It’s not meant to validate those that question the Torah as being divinely-inspired, written by man (or four authors for that matter). People will believe in what they want to, anyway. I also want to point out that I personally believe everything the Torah states. I’m just presenting some of the items that I personally found hard to understand at first-glance.
The above having been said, in no particular order or importance, this post points out seeming contradictory/curious events that by and large involve a leap of faith.
10. Eisav’s Wives
In three verses Eisav has:
a. Yehudith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite (Genesis 36:34)
b. Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, the sister of Nebaioth, in addition to his other wives as a wife (Genesis 28:9)
c. Adah, daughter of Elon the Hittite; and Oholibamah, daughter of Anah, daughter of Zibeon the Hivvite; also Basemath, daughter of Ishmael, sister of Nebaioth. (Genesis 36:2-3)
Rashi takes Basemath that to be a nickname for Adah as she burned sweet incense for idols. Basemath was the Hebrew translation of “spice girl,” not to be confused with the Spice Girls. In the verse of Basemath daughter of Ishmael Rashi states that Basemath is in reference to Mahalath. Talk about a head-scratcher! Leap of faith.
9. Mattos – Israel Killing Midian Due to a Revenge that Hashem Had With Them
Rather than dealing with them Himself, Hashem had Israel do His dirty work. The open-ended question is, how does this differentiate us from today’s terrorists that use the Quran that states Allah wants everyone to convert to Islam, or else?
In all fairness, the Midianites did seduce Klal Yisrael such that a plague came about, ravaging 24,000 Israelites until Pinchas came along. Therefore they deserved revenge. But still, why didn’t Hashem do the job Himself like He did with Sdom and Amora? Answer: leap of faith.
8. Yocheved Giving Birth to Moshe at 130 Years
Okay, I’ve accepted the notion that people once may have lived 900+ years as everything is relative. However, we’re talking about an era where Yosef died at 110 years, Moshe died at 120 years, and Yaakov died at 147 years. Yocheved, who was 130 years old in that same era, was able to give birth to Moshe, who wasn’t much younger than Aharon and Miriam. At that age she was supposed to be on her deathbed! This is mentioned in the Gemara with certainty in order to explain the 69-70 people difference in entrance, yet there’s only one opinion that states that person #70 was Miriam, who was allegedly born at the border (and did not technically “leave” Canaan). The other “person” to comprise #70 was the Shechina. Leap of faith.
7. The Corollary: Pharaoh Physically Living Many Generations Without Dying
In Exodus it states “and a new king arose in Egypt that didn’t know Yosef.” Two Rabbis, Rav and Shmuel, disagree on it’s meaning. One translates it as literally a new king, and one translates it as the same king with different rules, following the attitude “what did he do for us lately?” And we expect the same king to have lived when Moshe was repeatedly telling him “let my people go.” Perhaps he was very old and hard of hearing at that point?
There is a Midrash where, not only didn’t Pharaoh die, but he lived to the time of Yonah, being known there as “Pharaoh Necho” (Pharaoh the cripple). Apparently the amount of injury Hashem brought to him crippled him like nothing else!
My personal resolution here is to view the Pharaohs as a dynasty. When a father died, his son took charge and followed protocol so meticulously as if he and his father were one and the same, thus the Pharaoh never really died. As for the whole thing with Pharaoh Necho, Teiku. Leap of faith.
6. Boaz (an Israelite) Marrying Ruth (a Moabite)
The Torah is very specific against marrying a Moabite, even if that person converts. Yet Boaz, a pious, wise, gentle leader does just that, interpreting the Torah in the process that the forbidden marriage applies to Moabite men and not women. Convenient isn’t it? Leap of faith.
5. David Not Guilty of Murder and Adultery in Taking Batsheva as a Wife by Sending Her Husband Uriah Out on a Suicide Mission
On the surface it looks like David sent Uriah out on a suicide mission so he could marry his wife Batsheva, out of whom came Shlomo and eventually Moshiach. We are told from Talmudic sources that by Uriah telling David “By your life – Chayecha – I wouldn’t do such a thing” in response to calling Yoav, David’s general as “my lord,” punishable on the count of treason (Samuel II 11:11), it’s only spelled with one Yud and not two, which denotes that the life of the king has less value to him and he was being nonchalant to him. As for Batsheva, he allegedly viewed her from his tower bathing in a Mikvah with Ruach Hakodesh and didn’t sneak in.” While the explanation of the story is in my opinion a brilliant one, it still requires a leap of faith to believe that David didn’t sin at all. To quote the Talmud: “Whoever says that David sinned is simply mistaken!” Leap of faith.
4. Noah – All Animals in the Ark!
One of my favorites, this one has tons of questions.
First, the size of the ark. Two animals for each species translates into a lot of animals. One opinion is that the ark miraculously held all animals. Another is that there were multiple arks.
Second, the species not eating each other. When you pack carnivores together, and one is naturally prey to another, it’s difficult to imagine one specie not getting extinct in the ark when others can kill right away.
Third, the types of species. Whatever happened to the bugs, snakes, scorpions and other Sharatzim (creepy crawly things) that survived? What floor of the ark were they on?
Fourth, ark conditions. There are some animals that can survive only in hot conditions (salamanders, for example), some only in cold (penguins for example) and will not survive if temperature conditions change. How did the Ark cater to that? If you argue that animals learned to survive in these conditions at a later time, aren’t you implying the theory of macro-evolution? Lastly, if these animals weren’t in the ark, how can one boldly state that the whole world was engulfed?
Fifth, the giant kings Sichon and Og were on the Ark, when Hashem told Noah that He was only to save them. Didn’t Noah in this respect go against Hashem’s wishes?
Sixth (I know, I’m having fun with this), the lack of empirical evidence. While Ron Wyatt might have thought to have proven the ark resting in modern-day Turkey, recent evidence debunked that idea. Oh well.
There are more, but let’s move on. Leap of faith.
3. Moshe Was 10 Amos Tall in Height
This is according to the Gemara (Nedarim 38a). While it’s popular to assume that this is meant to be taken allegorically to describe his greatness, there are those that state that some Rabbis took that to be literal. Leap of faith.
2. Avraham Turning Soil into Arrows in the War of Kings – 5 v.s. 4
Okay, this is from the Talmud. This fact is mentioned by way of Nachum Ish Gamzu, R’ Akiva’s teacher, getting into some trouble with the Roman Caesar due to a shady innkeeper replacing a trunk full of gems into dirt. One of the emperor’s advisors (Eliyahu?) mentioned the story of Avraham with the soil turning into arrows, and that this might be it. To have soil turn into arrows is a leap of faith.
1. Yaakov Never Stole
Yaakov wrested Esav’s birthright by fooling Yitzchak, who was evidently unaware about the previous lentils-for-birthright sale. Later on at Lavan’s house Yaakov got control of various sheep whenever Lavan changed the conditions on him, by means of waiving special sticks to pregnant sheep so the offspring would be speckled or striped. There are more. Somehow Yaakov never stole, in no small part thanks to many generations full of Torah lawyers (Rabbis) fending for him on his behalf. Still, to state that Yaakov never stole in spite of all that happened is a leap of faith.
XX. Your suggestion!
I’m leaving this open so that everyone can distribute what they feel is a factual leap of faith, save for the existence of an all-powerful Being. Leaps of faith, anyone?