The Purpose of Torah in New Testament Judaism, Part 2

mentorAnd whoever occupies (“osek”) himself with the study of Torah is elevated, as is stated (Number 21:19), “And from the gift to Nahaliel, and from Nahaliel to The Heights.”

-Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers) 6:2

What is Torah?

I hear people speak about “Torah study” and “the power of Torah,” etc. But I’m not clear what exactly they are referring to with the term “Torah.” Is that more than the Five Books of Moses?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The word “Torah” literally translates as law or teaching.

Torah is the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Each book is one-fifth of the Torah. In Hebrew, this is collectively called the Chumash (literally: fifth).

It is called the Five Books of Moses because G-d dictated the text to Moses, who then wrote it down. Moses also plays a central role in the Torah.

Sometimes you will see the Five Books referred to by the Greek word, Pentateuch, which means “Five Books.” (“Pent” means five, and “teuch” means book.)

The second, more colloquial use of the term “Torah” includes the entire body of rabbinic literature – the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets and Writings, the Midrash, the Talmud (the compilation of rabbinic teachings explaining the biblical commandments), and even any teaching today based on these sources.

In this regard, Torah is the “constitution” of the Jewish people, covering the totality of law and lore, including lifecycle, business and medical ethics, holidays, family life, etc.

So when someone says, “I’m going to a Torah class,” or shares a “Devar Torah” (word of Torah), it is usually meant in the broader sense, not the Five Books in particular.

“What is Torah?”
-from the “Ask the Rabbi” column at

Since I’m in pursuit of the answer to the question What is the purpose of Torah in New Testament Judaism,” which I first asked in Part 1 of this series, the question asked of the Aish Rabbi couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s the question behind the question, the very center of my ongoing discussions with my Pastor about why I believe that Jews who have come to know Jesus as the Messiah are still obligated to the Torah mitzvot.

To say one is obligated to Torah begs the question, “What is Torah?”

But that’s not an easy question to answer, though the Aish Rabbi did a pretty good job. However, that one answer isn’t the only answer. I know my Pastor wouldn’t consider any extra-Biblical sources as “Torah” because he considers only the Bible as containing the inspired Word of God. Midrash and Talmud, not so much.

But if we must necessarily turn to Judaism to answer the question, the answer won’t be palatable to most Christians, especially Biblical literalists.

Another Aish Rabbi answers the same question differently:

The accurate meaning of “Torah” is twofold. Firstly it comes from the word “hora’ah,” which means teaching. More precisely it means “teaching with direction,” i.e. the type of teaching which enables and empowers one with a direction to proceed. The same word could be used in Hebrew with such teachings both in spiritual and secular realms.

The second meaning is from the word “orah,” which means light. One example of this reflected in the verse which states, “A mitzvah is a candle, and Torah is the light” (Proverbs 6:23). This can be understood on multiple levels:

One thought is that the Torah is the source of spiritual illumination in the world. Besides it being the source of Judaism, through it and its teachings we serve as a light unto the nations. As such the Torah serves as the foundation of much of Christianity and Islam.

The Torah also, more importantly, serves as the source of illumination for our own lives. Like the Clouds of Glory which guided the Jews for 40 years in the Desert, providing illumination and direction at night, the Torah lights our paths and provides the Jewish people with direction throughout our long period of exile, even through the darkest of times.

The Torah also provides direction in each Jew’s personal life. In business, family life or interaction with others, the Torah offers the ethical and moral compass by which to navigate the most complicated and tempestuous, thorny issues.

tallit_templeThis takes a giant step back from the document of the Torah and presents it as a two-fold principle or a “service” that is offered. Torah provides education and Torah provides spiritual illumination.

But then what do you do with commandments like this?

You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together.

Deuteronomy 22:11

Is that Torah? It’s certainly located within the Five Books of Moses. Do observant Jews perform that mitzvah today? Some do. Why don’t all Jews observe it, even those who may observe other mitzvot, such as wearing tzitzit or keeping some form of kosher? Is there more than one way to “do” Torah?

The answer to a simple question such as “What is Torah” seems multi-leveled and elusive. It’s further complicated by the fact that different streams of religious Judaism observe the mitzvot in different ways or observe some but not all of the codified mitzvot. I know Reform Jews who will go out to lunch at a restaurant on Shabbos but who maintain a tab so they can pay their bill (handle money) on a different day. Orthodox Jews couldn’t imagine themselves doing such a thing, even in their worst nightmares.

Another example: as far as I can tell, there are multiple forms of kosher, one being glatt kosher. If kosher is kosher, why different or varying standards?

This all goes back to my statement to my Pastor asserting the believing Jews are obligated, for instance, to “keep Kosher.” Yes, but “What is kosher?”

I mentioned in another blog post that my concern with looking to Christian sources for the answer to these questions is that the response will be biased by the assumption that Jesus “fulfilled” the Law so that all or much of it is no longer required for the believing Jews. However, looking to Judaism for the answer introduces a bias in the opposite direction, especially if part of that answer states that all of the midrashim and Talmud must be considered as Torah and thus infallibly inspired (or at least authorized) by God.

I also mentioned in my previous blog post that my Pastor believes there is a perfect and permanent Torah in Heaven that is never-changing, but that idea takes us immediately into mystic realms best left for another time (the upcoming Part 3 of this series). However, my Pastor also said that he would never tell a Jewish person who came to faith in Messiah that they had to give up their Torah observance because that’s who they are in terms of covenant, ethnicity, culture, and as a lived-Jewish experience. Part of being a Jew is Torah, even for Jews who have never studied Torah.

For instance, another Aish Rabbi answered the question of a sixty-six year old Jewish man who had never studied Torah before and was feeling as if he had “come to the party too late,” so to speak; that he was too old to begin to learn Torah.

When it comes to Torah study, there is no time like the present.

Maimonides writes (Laws of Torah Study 3:7):

“Perhaps one will say: ‘[I will interrupt my studies] until after I make money, and then I will return and study; [I will interrupt my studies] until after I buy what I need and can focus less on my business, then I will return and study.’

“If you think like this, you will never merit the Crown of Torah. Rather, make your work provisional and your Torah study permanent. Do not say: ‘When I have free time, I will study,’ for perhaps you will never have free time.”

Some people use the excuse, “I’m too old to begin learning.” But we know that Rebbe Akiva didn’t even learn the Aleph-Bet until he was 40 years old. This is the same Rebbe Akiva who became the greatest sage of his generation with 24,000 students!

Some people are hesitant to learn Torah because they can’t imagine ever becoming a scholar – so therefore why even get started? But that is faulty thinking. Every drop of Torah study is precious and eternal.

The story is told of Rabbi Yosef Kahaneman, who lived in the Lithuanian town of Ponevich. In the 1930s, when the Nazi threat grew grim, he escaped and made his way to Palestine. Arriving on the shores of Tel Aviv, he proudly proclaimed: “I have come here to establish a Yeshiva.”

Those who had come to greet the rabbi were perplexed: “Apparently you are not aware,” they told him, “that Rommel’s troops are now stationed in Egypt, and planning a total invasion of Israel. The Jewish Agency is destroying its records; the rabbis are distributing thousands of burial shrouds throughout the country. Our annihilation is imminent!”

“That will not deter me,” replied Rabbi Kahaneman. “Even if I am able to spread Torah learning for only a few days, that in itself would be of eternal significance.”

Rabbi Kahaneman built the Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, and named it after his Lithuanian town of “Ponevich.” Today it is the largest Yeshiva in Israel with thousands of students.

the-divine-torahI don’t know if you consider this “Biblical,” but for me, this is one of the most powerful arguments as to why all Jews, believing and otherwise, should zealously pursue studying and observing the mitzvot. Because Torah (however you define it) is at the heart of what it is to be a Jew. Not that secular, non-observant Jews aren’t Jewish…they certainly are, but something incredibly wonderful happened at Sinai when Hashem gave the Torah through Moshe. A people were brought together and united “as one man” before God in a way that had never happened previously in human history. It’s arguable that such a thing has ever happened since.

Although Christians have blessings without end through Israel and through Messiah, we never stood at the foot of Mount Hor and watched it burn in Divine fire and smoke. According to midrash, God spoke all the words of Torah simultaneously, in all of the seventy languages of the nations. It was truly wondrous and terrifying. Whether that happened literally or not, the point is that an event occurred at Sinai that forged and fused the Jewish people into a nation in a way that has never happened before or since.

I believe that Jesus is the prophet greater than Moses but salvation comes from the Jews, as the Master said himself (John 4:22). If we say that all or at least a whole lot of Torah (whatever that is) has gone the way of the Dodo bird, then all or at least a whole lot of what happened to the Children of Israel at Sinai went with it.

What is Torah? If Pastor is right and Torah, the whole Word of God, actually, exists in a perfect and immutable form in the Heavenly court, then it cannot be annulled, deleted, edited, altered, folded, spindled, or mutilated in any way. If that is true and if the “earthly” Torah was given as a sort of copy or model, just as the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in the desert was a “scale model” of the Heavenly Court of Hashem, then both the original and the model are Holy.

One does not desecrate the altar of the Tabernacle (and later, the Temple) without desecrating God. If we say that parts of the Torah can be removed, minimized, and deleted for the inheritors of the Torah at Sinai, the Jewish people, what are we saying about the Holy original? What are we doing to God?

What is Torah and what are the Jewish disciples of the Jewish Messiah supposed to do about it?

This is an exploratory series, so I’m not going to try to answer all of the above right now. I’m just setting the scene and inviting the players to take up their roles. Answer for me, if you will, the questions about Torah in a way that our brothers and sisters in the Christian church can comprehend and see how Torah is an ideal and a goal for the Jewish people, even as is the Messiah who is in Heaven and who will return.

The world is a place of constant change and unrest. Each point in time is distinct from the point before and the point after. Every point in space is its own world, with its own conditions and state of being. It is a world of fragments constantly rushing like traffic in anarchy.

Look at your own life: You do so many different things, one after the other without any apparent connection between them.

Inner peace is when every part of you and every facet of your day is moving in the same direction.

When you have purpose, you have peace.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Inner Peace”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe, Rabbi M. M. Schneerson

More questions and another perspective on the purpose of Torah coming up in Part 3 of this series on Monday.


14 thoughts on “The Purpose of Torah in New Testament Judaism, Part 2”

  1. “the questions about Torah in a way that our brothers and sisters in the Christian church can comprehend and see how Torah is an ideal and a goal for the Jewish people, even as is the Messiah who is in Heaven and who will return”

    I’ve been an evangelical Christian my entire life. And story that is constantly told about Torah goes like this: The only purpose for “the law”, is to reveal to each person that they’re a sinner and they fall short. One acknowledges their sinful nature when they accept Jesus as savior, therefore, “the law” has done it’s job and now it’s bad to try to follow it because it would deny Jesus’ work on the cross that “fulfilled” the law.

    Which amounts to this: I’ve failed to meet God’s standard, therefore, I must repent and be saved for not meeting His standards. Once repented, I’m now supposed to continue to break the law that I just repented from breaking, and it’s now a “good” thing. As a wise Rabbi once told me:
    “Christians are so afraid of “legalism” that they’d rather be in rebellion.”

    My point is that it’s impossible for Christians to grasp the concept with sound bites, it must be a paradigm change.

  2. Yes, but the paradigm change has to start somewhere. For most of us, it was a conversation or series of conversations that lead to considering alternate possibilities, reading, studying, immersing ourselves in the topic, praying, and then finally discovering ourselves on the shores of some truth we thought not only distant but mythical. In appealing to my audience for help, I’m seeking out a greater wisdom, scholarship, and even imagination than my own. That may include some of the people who visit here and who is to say that God won’t also be speaking, too?

  3. You wrote, “my concern with looking to Christian sources for the answer to these questions is that the response will be biased by the assumption that Jesus “fulfilled” the Law so that all or much of it is no longer required for the believing Jews. However, looking to Judaism for the answer introduces a bias in the opposite direction, especially if part of that answer states that all of the midrashim and Talmud must be considered as Torah and thus infallibly inspired (or at least authorized) by God.”

    That’s a nicely balanced statement but I’d like to add a bit. The church’s supersessionism is another profound error while, on the other hand, rabbinic writings have two additional, quite serious, shortcomings: the absence of any explicit deference to Messiah Yeshua and the exclusion of the Brit Hadashah from Torah. Thus, no Yeshua-believer can consider either Christian or Jewish tradition to be infallible.

    I write this as a Yeshua-believer who affirms the great value of traditions, despite the fact that they are flawed, and reject the “sola scriptura” (Bible only) approach that has led to a proliferation of conflicting interpretations and never-ending schisms. I also write as a Messianic Jew who studies rabbinic writings every day and find them illuminating and nurturing. They reflect genuine wisdom from God. They are, after all is said and done, part of my heritage. But I also weep over the gaping absence of the Master from their pages .

  4. Thank you for saying all that, Rabbi Carl. Your comment is precisely what I was hoping for; a perspective that encompasses an experience beyond (or at least different than) my own. I can only present this topic and its importance from my point of view, but the focus of what I’m trying to say is the Torah in relation to the Messianic Jewish people.

  5. At the risk of encroaching on your part 3, I would like to offer an observation in response to your report of Pastor Randy’s belief about a permanent Torah in heaven on which the earthly one is based, comparable to the heavenly Mikdash that was the pattern for the earthly one. While we see both Mikdashim in parallel operation in the letter to the Hebrews, there is a significant passage in Torah that tells us the situation is different for the Torah. Deut.30:11-14 tells us that the Torah is not far away nor too hard to do; and it specifically states that it is NOT in heaven that someone should need to ascend [to acquire it] and bring it [back down] to us so that we might perform it. Moreover, it specifies that it is near us — in our mouths and in our hearts — that we may perform it. Rabbi Akiva is credited in one story as citing verse 12 specifically to say that even miraculous signs or audible voices from heaven are not acceptable means to determine the proper legal application of Torah; and HaShem is envisioned as pleased that humans have taken upon themselves this full responsibility. Therefore, while it is certainly true that the Torah originated with HaShem and reflects heavenly principles, it was given to Israel as an outright grant and responsibility to maintain, interpret, and apply. It is no longer the responsibility of anyone in heaven, and even HaShem’s inexhaustible knowledge of its origins and its meanings does not diminish or revoke His full and unreserved gift of it into Israel’s authorized hands.

    1. Hi PL,

      I’d like to comment on your last two sentences: “The Torah originated with HaShem and reflects heavenly principles, it was given to Israel as an outright grant and responsibility to maintain, interpret, and apply. It is no longer the responsibility of anyone in heaven, and even HaShem’s inexhaustible knowledge of its origins and its meanings does not diminish or revoke His full and unreserved gift of it into Israel’s authorized hands.”

      I would like to contend these thoughts, at least in the absolute way you have expressed them. You’ve drawn this from the story of Achnai’s Oven, in which God does miracles to support the opinion of Rabbi Eliezar over the opinion of the majority of rabbis. But they reject not only God’s miracles but his also voice, which declares “the halakhah is according to Rabbi Eliezer. The majority “defeated” Rabbi Eliezer and God by pointing out that the Torah is not in heaven but on earth. God’s opinion doesn’t matter. Then God laughs in delight that “my sons have defeated me.”

      This story is particularly important because it is the centerpiece of the rabbis justification of their absolute authority. This includes every matter from the details of Shabbat observance to identifying the Messiah. For Moses’ prediction that God would raise up another Prophet, a Messianic prophecy that is part of the Torah.

      So, as a Jew, I can imagine myself standing before the majority of rabbis as a believer in Messiah Yeshua. God says, “Carl is right–Yeshua is the Messiah.” But the majority refuses to accept God’s voice and declares me a min (heretic). God then laughs, “My children have defeated me again!” God is pleased with them and displeased with me for rejecting the majority, even though he knows full well that Yeshua is his Messiah.

      The identity of Messiah is just the beginning of areas in which the majority would overrule God. They do not recognize the Brit Hadashah and they do not recognize the joyous obligation of Jewish believers in Yeshua to love all our fellow Yeshua believers as Messiah has loved us. Should Jews accept the traditional majority in these matters, too?

      Hopefully, one day I will find an opening to express the depth and beauty of my relationship with Torah and rabbinic tradition. For now, I just want to say that accepting the majority’s right to interpret and apply Torah is not absolute and God does not laugh when his voice is ignored.

      1. Shavua Tov, Carl — I understand your contention and I share in your frustration with the unpleasant reality that the leaders of the Jewish people actually have the authority to be WRONG. However, for good or for ill, this is an irrevocable gift of authority, which only increases the responsibility borne by these authorities. I do not say that HaShem holds them guiltless for any divergence from His Torah in applying or interpreting the Torah. The episode of Aknai’s oven only underscores the degree of this awesome legal responsibility. It then becomes our responsibilty as Rav Yeshua’s hasidim to work toward opening the eyes of current authorities to the finer distinctions between the negative elements that previously were inveighed against with some statements, and the positive aspects of ourselves and Rav Yeshua’s approach to Torah. As with any system of law or administration, errors can be made, and they can be corrected by later case considerations. We see this illustrated in US Supreme Court decisions that have been affected by prevailing cultural influences, and Rabbinical pronouncements over the centuries are not so different in character. Chazal reiterates some of Rav Yeshua’s Matt.23 criticism of the Pharisees (or a recognizably faulty subset of them), for example, illustrating that corrections and improvements are possible. I believe that the power lies within us (b’ezrat HaShem) to demonstrate that the modern MJ community is not defined by the characteristics that impelled earlier generations of rabbis to present a rejectionistic front. However, there is still much improvement required of the modern MJ community in the aggregate to support such a demonstration. Thus we should not wish for miraculous signs or voices from heaven to justify us in our appeal to these authorities. Rather, the miraculous signs should be evident in improving our behavior and our demeanor on earth as a community and as individuals, that we should be seen as walking examples of Torah whose positive contribution to the Jewish enterprise cannot be denied as sectarian or separatist.

  6. Actually the metaphor comparing the Torah to the Mishkan was mine. Pastor merely said that there is a perfect Torah in Heaven, but I guess that makes your analysis still valid. If there is no Heavenly Torah that is analogous to the earthly document, then, since we don’t have the actual original scrolls, our Bible is only a close approximation of the original scriptures.

    I think what Pastor was trying to get at is that there is a Word of God in it’s immutable, infallible, perfect form out there somewhere that we can depend upon as our guide. Any written, copied, and especially translated version invariably introduces a certain amount of error because human beings have gotten their hands on it.

  7. Shalom,

    You wrote, “for good or for ill, this is an irrevocable gift of authority, which only increases the responsibility borne by these authorities. I do not say that HaShem holds them guiltless for any divergence from His Torah in applying or interpreting the Torah.”

    Well, we disagree. There are many leaders in Israel, but the only one with irrevocable authority is Messiah himself.

    1. Well, Carl, I regret having to agree that we must disagree for the present. The Messiah is not present with us here “on the ground” so to speak, to exercise any legal authority for the entire Jewish community whatsoever. While he is in heaven, he can only rule in the hearts that heed him. When he returns it will be a different matter, but as long as he is in heaven he is legally constrained by Torah from making halakhah. If his disciples would get their act together and become recognized Torah sages, they could act on his behalf here on earth. I’ve often credited your own teaching efforts as an important step in that direction. Meanwhile Rav Shaul’s observation to the Roman assemblies that HaShem’s gifts and calling to the Jewish people are irrevocable (Rom.11:29) adds weight to the halakhah that has been developed by our rabbis. That does not mean that we should fail to distinguish halakhah from aggadah and minhag, nor does it mean that we cannot exert efforts to challenge actual halakhot that can be shown to set aside Torah, even as Rav Yeshua did in some of his arguments.

      We can observe an intriguing example of how this could work, in the Habad organization. No one can deny their influence in the Torah observant community, yet a segment of their ranks has elevated their Rebbe Schneerson to the status of Messiah — some even make divine claims for him, and some speak as if he also is expected to return (though I have not yet heard of any claims that he was seen resurrected or ascending into heaven). Rav Yeshua messianists should feel a twinge of jealousy that their messiah candidate Schneerson should be so well received while the credentials of our own candidate Yeshua ben-Yosef ben-David are so denigrated or ignored. And we should consider seriously that one of the most significant distinctions between them in the eyes of the Jewish community is the behavior of each candidate’s disciples.

      It may well be said that a master stands or falls on the testimony of his disciples, and that their deeds speak louder than their words. If Rav Yeshua’s views are to be heeded in our era as representative of HaShem’s own views of Torah, we who are his currently-living disciples must be the enactors and promoters of them as respectable members of the living Torah-observant community. The label “min” is actually less an accusation of heretical religious belief than it is a political pejorative, because its literal meaning of “sectarian” represents an accusation of disloyalty in separating from the community and dividing and weakening that community. Of course, this includes the ramifications of loyalty to Torah (hence the religious overtones). If we wish to shed that accusation as being inapplicable to modern Jewish Rav-Yeshua messianists, it is not voices from heaven that will be found convincing. It is voices on earth who can demonstrate their loyalty to the Jewish people in supporting the community’s validity, millennial generational continuity, and dedication to Torah — even while they must also prophetically decry the failings of our people and present the improvements we ought to pursue. It is human voices energized by heaven who must influence the development and the application of halakhah for our generation.

      1. Shalom PL,

        You misconstrue what I am saying. I do not claim that Messiah makes halakhah on earth but that “delegated authority” on earth is neither absolute nor irrevocable. When authorities – whether kings, priests, rabbis, or other leaders – act outside the bounds of Torah, their authorities is compromised and, over time, may even be removed. This can result in a very chaotic situation such as we have today, where the great majority of Jews care little for Torah, and in exile, where we live today.

      2. Sorry, Carl — we may be viewing the situation quite differently because you are writing from the Galut, while I am writing from Israel where the exile is essentially over and we are in the process of getting back to business. Moreover, I am writing from Jerusalem where the presence of varying shades of the Torah-observant is quite prominent. In fact, there is significant political jockeying for position to establish who may really claim Torah authority, and the effect on any given issue or deliberation is not unlike that chaos which may be found in any modern legislative body such as the Israeli Knesset, the US Congress, or the UK Parliament. Believe me, the irrevocable authority still exists and one may find oneself facing judicial court proceedings in certain matters as a result. I never said it was absolute, but it is undeniably effective, and it would behoove Jewish messianists to prepare themselves to defend their positions within the Torah framework as it is very widely (if not quite uniformly) understood by these authorities. Credit is due to MJTI in Jerusalem for presenting lectures from time to time that successfully address how Jewish messianists may answer attempts to read ancient comments inimically or polemically in the present.

        Now it is true that a unified authority probably will not coalesce until a new Mikdash can be constructed and placed into operation, and we understand the political obstructions that currently inhibit such conditions. Meanwhile, there is only a little time remaining for the messianic community in Israel and elsewhere to learn, to improve, and to prepare. And there is no little amount of improvement needed, especially in Israel.

      3. Thanks for your comments. The Land/Exile distinction is profoundly important. Sadly, I’m not at all convinced that the exile is essentially over in Israel. The Orthodox of all stripes are utterly committed to the Babylonian Talmud which, of course, is an exilic work. It is a hopeful sign, though, that some are paying more attention to the Talmud of the Land of Israel which, as you know, was commended by Rav Kook as a more spiritual work. One day, midrash, which also arose exclusively in the Land of Israel, will also come into its proper role. May these things happen speedily, in our day.

      4. You raise a very interesting question: When is an exile over? We could account the Babylonian exile as concluded officially no later than as of Ezra’s public Torah reading at the re-built Temple re-dedication, some decades later than the initial return with Zerubabel, but Purim tells us that many exiles still had not returned more than a century later. So how shall we identify the end of the second exile? We could cite 1948, we could cite 1967, or we could count various waves of aliyah, including the vast return of Russian Jews in the 1980s-90s. It would seem that it is not a criterion to have even half the world’s Jewish population back in the Land, because that obviously was not a criterion for the end of the first exile. Must we wait for the dedication of another rebuilt Temple to declare the second exile concluded officially? I used the qualified term “essentially over” precisely because of that ambiguity, and because for many practical purposes Israel’s functioning government since 1948 has produced a stable independent self-sufficient working Israeli society.

        Now, no modern government on earth operates in complete isolation or commercial independence, so the various kinds of military hardware assistance Israel receives from the USA (which we do pay for), and other joint ventures between nations, do not disqualify that statement of self-sufficiency. Aspects of Jewish practice that appear to have been developed in Babylon by Ezra continued to become standard practice after the end of the first exile, and are still in practice today. Therefore, we cannot expect any disavowal of the exilic development of Talmud Bavli as a criterion to indicate the end of the second exile.

        One of the notable differences in the people of Israel between the time when they left Egypt to the time that the subsequent generation entered the Land was a change in outlook, from what has been called a dependent slave mentality to an independent sense of national purpose that was ready to begin assertively taking possession of the land that HaShem had promised. Has the Jewish people not undergone a similar change since the tentative beginnings of Zionistic aliyah settlement and the present time? Are we not now confident in the sense of purpose represented by the Jewish State? Or must we silence every hint of dissent regarding Israel’s right to all the land that HaShem assigned to the Jewish people, before we can claim readiness to declare the second exile truly ended? How many signs are enough to justify such a declaration, or is there a single key indicator? Re-building the Temple would certainly be a sufficiently significant one, and for that I also will invoke the wish for it to occur speedily and in our days.

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