Where Do We Find God?

Torah at SinaiWhere is the Torah?

-Shabbos 89a

It seems incredulous that Satan was unaware that Moshe had received the Torah and had taken it down to earth. Tosafos answers that at that moment, Hashem caused the Satan to become confused and confounded in order to avoid the risk of having Satan interfere with the giving of the Torah.

Maharsha notes that the Gemara had earlier reported that when Moshe came to the heavens, all the celestial angels presented Moshe with various gifts, and among those who gave Moshe a tribute was Satan himself. (This interpretation is based upon the fact that Satan and the Angel of Death are one and the same. It was the Angel of Death that divulged the secret of the incense to Moshe, and that it had the power to interrupt a raging plague.) Satan, we see, clearly was aware of the events surrounding Moshe’s mission and that his coming to the heavens was specifically in order to receive the Torah and to bring it back for the Jewish people. Why, then, asks Maharsha, was Satan surprised when Moshe took the Torah back to earth?

Daf Yomi Digest
Gemara Gem
“To where did the Torah go?”
Commentary on Shabbos 89a

This is midrash and as such, it’s not a good idea to try to take it literally, but perhaps there is something we can learn here. If we indeed have an Adversary who seeks to divert us from a life of holiness and an awareness of God and if this Adversary has the ability to succeed in his task, then how is a life of holiness possible at all?

Maharsha responds that…

Satan realized that the Torah was going to be given to Moshe. However, due to its extreme holiness and spiritual nature, Satan was certain that this was valid only as long as Moshe remained in the heavens. It did not seem possible that the Torah had any purpose in being taken to earth, to be shared with men who are made up of physical elements. When Moshe took the Torah to the Jews, Satan was shocked, and he asked, “What happened to the Torah? How could it be fitting for man to have?”

The truth is, though, that the purpose of Torah is indeed for man to have.

There are certain voices in Judaism who believe the Torah is far more than a document; a scroll with words that communicate information. They see the Torah as having a life of its own, it is wisdom and it is also part of God and thus it is the embodiment of God. Interestingly enough, Christianity’s perception of “the Word” is not far from this.

In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. Everything was made to exist through him, and nothing that was made to exist was made to exist except by him.

John 1:1-3 (DHE Gospels)

But of course, there’s more.

The word was made flesh and dwelled in our midst. We have beheld his glory, like the glory of a father’s only son, great in kindness and truth.

John 1:14 (DHE Gospels)

The Bible exists between two “bookends,” between two instances wherein we see God dwelling among His people. In Genesis, we see that He walked in the Garden with man and in Revelation, we see God once more among those who love Him. And in between, the Torah was brought to earth by an emissary of God and given to men, both as the Torah from Sinai and the Word made flesh in Israel.

While midrash may ponder how the Adversary could allow the Torah to be brought down from Heaven to become accessible to man, the Bible tells us that he challenged such an action in the days of the second temple.

Then the spirit carried Yeshua into the wilderness so that the satan could test him.

Matthew 4:1 (DHE Gospels .. see Matthew 4:1-11 for more)

everlastingBut testing isn’t the same thing as stopping or preventing or defeating. As the midrash says…

The goal of the Torah is that it be studied and applied by man, in order for him to incorporate it into his unique blend of being made up of both physical and spiritual aspects.

And as told to us by John…

And from his fullness we all have received kindness upon kindness. For the Torah was given by Mosheh and the kindness and truth came through Yeshua the Mashiach. No one has ever seen God; the only son who is in the Father’s lap has made him known.

John 1:16-18 (DHE Gospels)

God has always desired to dwell among His special creation; among humanity. He has done so before, however briefly, and He will do so again in eternity. He has sent His messengers and His emissaries to us to give us gifts of Himself, the Torah of Moses and the Mashiach, the Christ. The means to know God and to be with God are within our grasp. As the sages say, the Torah is not in Heaven. As the Apostles of the Messiah say, the Spirit of God is with us in our hearts.

Blessings to you and all who are yours, and blessed be God who so loved the whole world that he gave us His only son.

Amen.

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