We are completely different since that Shavuos, having
received the Torah. We would not want to imagine ourselves as
we would be without the Torah, but in modern times there are
all too many, and all too powerful, demonstrations of the
depths to which man can sink all around us.
Torah is completely unique. It is not another system; it is
not just another body of knowledge.
The Torah is the word of Hashem to mankind. There is nothing
else like it. It is instructions for how to live on a
personal and national level. It is knowledge about the
secrets of the universe. It presents a standard for a life
that is so high that we have never — yet —
achieved it, but we continually strive for it.
All the hard-won achievements of the rest of the world are of
a totally different character. The scientific knowledge of
the rest of the world is not competitive with Torah. It is
based on physical experience and always advanced with
admitted uncertainty. It is the best guess today, but who
knows what the morrow may bring? New facts may be discovered;
new ideas may be proposed.
The Lancet (1997 p. 1752; 1998 p. 376) estimated that
the half life of medical knowledge is 45 years, meaning that
within that period, half of what is known at a given time is
discarded. A specialist in medicine said that after working
for 20 years he found that more than 20 percent of what he
had learned was never true in the first place.
This is not true in Torah, and it cannot be true in Torah.
This is because Torah comes from the Source of truth and the
Creator of the entire universe.
"It should not be imagined for a moment that there is a
Jewish wisdom and truth — and together with it, and
with the same measure of importance and authority, there are
also non- Jewish wisdoms and truths; and when we have
absorbed enough divrei Torah we can turn, in the same
spirit, to the wisdom of the nations of the world. Then we
would set up, in this spirit, knowledge next to knowledge,
truth next to truth. . . . We are confident that there is
only one truth, and only one body of knowledge that can serve
as the standard [against which everything else is measured].
Compared to it, all the other sciences are valid only
provisionally" (Commentary of HaRav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch
to Vayikra 18:4).
Vayikra 18:4: Do my mitzvah and keep my chukim
to go in their ways, I am Hashem your G-d. The Safro
draws some very important lessons from this posuk:
"Loleches bohem" — make them ikkar and do not
make them tefeiloh. "Loleches bohem" — your
discourse should be only in them. You should not mix in with
them other things from the world. Don't say, `I have learned
chochmas Yisroel; now I will learn the chochmoh
of the nations of the world — that is why it comes to
teach you, "loleches bohem" you must not take leave of
them. And it also says, "They alone will be for you"
Torah must be learned and evaluated only within the tradition
that we have that goes back ultimately to Sinai. The Torah is
a complete system that can and should educate us. It can and
should provide us with all the intellectual tools we need to
discover the truth, and it can and should provide us with all
the information that we need to discover the truth.
On the same posuk, the Ramban explains that a person's
"life with mitzvos will be according to his approach to them.
A person who does mitzvos shelo lishmon and in order
to get a reward, will have a long life with wealth, and
property, and honor. . . . And those who do mitzvos in order
to merit Olom Habo, who worship from yir'oh, will
achieve according to their intention: they will be saved from
the judgments of the reshoim and their souls will rest
in good. And those who do mitzvos from ahavoh, with
the appropriate attention to the matters of This World, will
merit in This World a good life as is common in the world,
and in the life of Olom Habo they will have full merit. And
those who leave matters of This World entirely . . . as if
they were incorporeal, and all their thoughts and intentions
are on their Creator like Eliahu . . . will live forever body
and soul like Eliahu . . . "
No other body of knowledge does nor can make that claim.
Blessed is He Who has given Torah to Yisroel.