18 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
    CONCERNING THE TORAH

    by

    Aron Katsenelinboigen

 

    INTRODUCTION

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The analysis of the holy books that form the foundations of modern religions is of great interest, because these books present holistic ideologies (Weltanschauung).  Such ideologies cover all aspects of human existence, from the most fundamental questions of the creation of the universe to the problems of daily social life. In particular, an analysis of holy books could foster the development of new ideas in decision-making processes. In turn, achievements in decision-making theory could be helpful in resolving some theological problems. And so, the reciprocal relationship between decision-making theory and theology could be fruitful for both fields. In view of a large number of holy books, each of considerable size, I have chosen to examine only one such book – the Old Testament and its core section the Torah (Pentateuch). I use the term "Torah" in the narrow sense to mean the Five Books by Moses that are the basics of Judaism. The broad definition of the Torah includes, along with the Five Books by Moses, the Jewish sacred literature and all relevant commentaries and interpretations. I want to note right away that in speaking of God's actions I shall always mean the way they are described by the authors and editors of the Torah.

    As Avishai Margalit wisely mentioned in his review of the book The Prophets: Who They Were, What They Are by Norman Podgoretz (Free Press, 2002) who was speaking of another book, History of the Religion of Israel, by Yehezkel Kaufmann (New York: Ktav Pub. House, 1977):

    I believe that Kaufmann misconceived what he was doing, although he was doing something of great importance. He did not, as he thought, describe what the historical Israelites actually believed. Instead he gave an impressive account of the believes of those who wrote or edited the Bible, wherever and whenever this occurred. (Analogously, one could give an impressive account of the beliefs expressed in War and Peace, yet also be mistaken in maintaining that it is an account of the actual beliefs of the Russian people during the Napoleonic Wars.)

    I happen to think that the authors and editors of the Torah did not only express their own view, but revealed an underlying mind-set of worldly Jews throughout their history, to whom the ideas of the Torah, albeit to varying degrees, have always been relevant (Analogously, in my view, Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace gave an impressive account of the typical beliefs of the Russians during the Napoleonic Wars.)

    I hope that if my ambitious endeavor to apply to the Torah certain methodological principles that I have discovered is at all successful, it may benefit an analysis of other holy books, perhaps in their entirety.

    DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO THE ANALYSIS OF THE TORAH

    There are at least three of these kinds of approaches. The first one that is most typical interprets a given text within the framework of the well-established theology. Certainly, there are in these interpretations a lot of great ideas with practical applications to liturgy, customs, etc. The second approach is to bring new general theological ideas to the analysis of the texts of the Torah, whatever their ontology. People who are rationally inclined tend not to accept these books, nor the stories presented in them. They view these books as figments of imagination, existing in contradiction to modern scientific theories. All the same, there have even been attempts to bring holy books in accordance with modern science.

    These attempts have focused not only on certain isolated events that these books record [see, for example, the books by Nathan Aviezer (1990) and Andrew Goldfinger (1999)] but also on a general methodology of their analysis. (For example, combining  Jewish holy books with Aristotelian logic done by Maimonides (1135-1204), the application of Process Philosophy elaborated by Alfred Whitehead (1861-1947) to the Bible, etc.) The third approach is based on revising some texts of the Torah, for example, rejecting those passages that strongly condemn homosexuality, etc.

    The present book adheres for the most part to the second and third kinds of approaches. I bring new philosophical ideas like a degree of indeterminism and its core – the category of a predisposition - to the interpretation of the old text and sometimes reinterpret the text by assuming that God is asexual, and that “Thou shall not murder” is a more accurate rendition of the appropriate commandment than “Thou shall not kill,” etc.

     

    HISTORICAL FLASHBACK

    My interest in finding new approaches to the analysis of the Torah has a long history. Many years ago, I included in my book Selected Topics in Indeterministic Systems (1989) a large chapter called “One Possible Interpretation of the Interpretations by the Authors of the Torah of the Plans and Actions of the Creator.” (pp. 259-330) Hereafter, I will refer to it simply as Chapter. The guiding principle of the Chapter is the evolving God and related ideas. At the time of the Chapter’s writing, as a novice in this field, I was not familiar with the concept of Process Theology derived from Process Philosophy. Most Jewish scholars with whom I have discussed my Chapter had had traditional training and were primarily preoccupied with Halacha rather than theology, and had ignored Process Philosophy and Process Theology entirely. True, some of them knew of Process Theology, but they put it on the periphery of biblical studies, because they assumed that it belonged wholly to Christian theology, and therefore was heretical and undeserving of mention. In fact, Process Philosophy “presents a general metaphysical scheme for understanding reality as a whole.” (Sandra Lubarsky (1996), p.3)  Sandra Lubarsky and David Griffin (1996) have published a marvelous collection of articles written by a group of Christian and Jewish scholars who devoted themselves to applying process philosophy to Jewish theology.[1] The Wikipedia[2] characterizes process theology in the following way:

    Process theology is a school of thought influenced by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947). The concepts of process theology include: God is not omnipotent. The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free will. Free will characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God cannot force anything to happen, but rather only influence the exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities. God contains the universe but is not identical with it (panentheism) Because God contains a changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time. People do not experience a subjective (or personal) immortality, but they do have an objective immortality in that their experiences live on forever in God, who contains all that was. The original ideas of process theology were developed by Charles Hartshorne (1898-2000), and were later expounded upon by John B. Cobb and David Ray Griffin. While process theology first was adopted by some liberal Protestant Christians, it soon influenced a number of Jewish theologians, including British philosopher Samuel Alexander (1859-1938), and Rabbis Max Kaddushin, Milton Steinberg and Levi A. Olan, Harry Slominsky and to a lesser degree, Abraham Joshua Heschel. Today some rabbis who advocate process theology or a related theology include Rabbis William E. Kaufman, Harold Kushner, Anton Laytner, Nahum Ward, Donald B. Rossoff and Gilbert S. Rosenthal.

    After the publication of the Chapter, my research priorities have shifted, and for a number of years my interest in theology declined – but not completely. For example, in the mid-nineties, I used my interpretations of the Torah in a paper read at the seminar on the design of a twenty-first century corporation, held at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania under the supervision of Professor Jerry Wind.

    For many years, professionals did not extend any formal recognition to the Chapter, but privately, I received sporadic feedback from several religious scholars. My dear friend, Maurice Friedberg, Professor of Slavic studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana‑Champaign, presented the Chapter to two of his colleagues from the University who are Old Testament specialists. I am talking about Wayne T. Pi­tard, Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Program for the Study of Religion, and Gary G. Porton, Professor of Religious Studies, History, and Com­parative Literature, and the Drobny Professor of Talmudic Studies and Judaism.

    As Professor Friedberg wrote in his letter to me, the impressions of these two Professors were essentially identical. They both said that the author was ignorant of much biblical scholarship, and therefore occasionally reinvented the wheel; but, in spite of this, he had produced a most interesting study of a crucial Biblical text. Both of them found my arguments to be closely reasoned, and they said that my application of the tools of modern social science to biblical narrative resulted in an impressive number of intriguing insights.

    Because biblical scholarship traditionally relies heavily on secondary sources – a method that my manuscript ignored – they could not think of a pub­lisher who would print it. Nevertheless, the biblical scholars who have read my Chapter found my ignorance of secondary sources most intriguing and conducive to fresh insights, a phenomenon that Russian literary scholars call ostranenie. Professor Friedberg added that, personally, he is of the same opinion. I must note that I have narrowed my ignorance of biblical scholarship somewhat in writing the present book as many references to secondary sources will confirm.

    Herbert Wentz, Professor of Theology at the University of the South (Se­wanee), also expressed an appreciation of my venture into theology in a letter to me and during several conversations.

    I fully returned to theology in the late nineties when, with Rabbi Neil Gillman’s help, I became acquainted with the concept of process theology. Actually, I discovered its main features earlier on my own. While analyzing the Torah from different angles suggested by process theology, I was able to provide new insights into some well-known problems in the field. When I became acquainted with process theology, I immediately submitted my Chapter to the Center for Process Studies in Clermont, California, which focuses on process theology.

    It was very kind of John Cobb and Judith Casanova, leading members of the Center, to read the Chapter and express their positive opinion of it. Judith Casanova, editor of the journal Creative Transformation, has suggested that I compress this Chapter into an article and submit it to her journal. I did so, and the article appeared in the Summer 2000, Volume 9, Number 4 edition of Creative Transformation. I also contacted Rabbi William Kaufman, one of the leading scholars in the field of process theology; he too spoke positively about my writings, though with some reservations.

    I also resumed my contacts with marvelous Rabbi Neil Gillman and became familiar with writings of his that overlap with my research of the Torah. I closely studied his book (2000), at the end of which Rabbi Gillman writes:

    I hope that this book will be read, taught, and studied. However, it will fulfill its ultimate purpose if it impels you, its reader, to reach into yourself, come in touch with your own religious experiences, create your own images‑the less conventional the better‑and put them on paper, and share them with your family and friends. (p.186)

    I must confess that at least with me Rabbi Gillman has achieved the ultimate purpose of his book, by inspiring my own research. All of this encouraged me to undertake a project to further develop the ideas of the Chapter, to the extent that it could be put in a book form.

    18 QUESTIONS

    I base this project on a set of questions. This way of writing is not a new one. There are some books based entirely upon the answers to a set of questions, to be precise, to a set of “101 Questions and Answers” about holy books. Among them I could mention the books by Raymond Brown (1990), John Haught (2001), and Roland Murphy and O. Carm (1996). The first book concerns general problems of the Bible with an emphasis on the New Testament and the different attitudes toward it of Catholics and Protestants. The other two books that I listed are closer to my project, and I will refer to them later. It will be a brief reference for the following reasons: The book by Haught raises questions about the role of Darwin in relation to evolutionary theory. The book by Murphy is the closest to my project; however, it deals mainly with the structure of the Torah and with such   questions as  'Who wrote the Torah and what was the role of Abraham?' In any case, each of these three books was written for a general public.

    My book is based on a set of more specific questions, and aims at a scholarly audience. Certainly, there are other books written from this vantage point, but they explore fairly general topics, for example, a possibility of discovering God or establishing God’s image, God’s uniqueness, and God’s role as a father, mother, or redeemer, etc. Of course, these books contain questions that overlap with mine. Those by Alan Dershowitz (2000), Neil Gilman (2000), and Leon Kass (2003) are particularly noteworthy. The difference between my book and similar books, in terms of form, is in the way in which other authors pose their questions.

    While I combine all my questions in one place, other authors spread their questions throughout their books. I deliberately present the questions this way to underscore their conceptual unity, in contrast to a dispersal of questions that signifies an eclectic approach. Later on, I will explain this point in greater detail.

    The first thing I had to do to start writing the book was to enlarge the set of questions that I previously raised in the Chapter. This set now contains 18 questions. From this point on, I will refer to them as 18 questions. At first glance, this list of questions looks disorganized, or messy. The Webster’s Dictionary defines "mess" as “a disorderly or confused collection or mass of things.” But in fact the 18 questions have an organizing principle: they have been chosen because of my belief that I can offer fresh insights into each of them, using chiefly my unifying concept of predispositioning, which is briefly described in Chapter 2.

    I will also briefly describe the original points I make in the section Structure of the Book of the Introduction.

    The reader will find these 18 questions below.

    1.      Could an evolutionary and a creationist approach to the development of the Universe be complimentary?

    2.      Did God have a final goal that guided God as the creator of the universe?

    3.       Why didn't God create the universe instantly? Why did it take six days?

    4.       Why didn't God state in detail his plan or program for the creation of the universe, if it is a prolonged process?

    5.       Why did God act in stages, each time announcing the purpose of each stage?

    6.        Is God an entity that also has feelings, or does God make only rational decisions?

    7.       Is God an entity that has a gender or is God asexual?

    8.       Why was it necessary for God to evaluate the results of own work during the first six days?

    9.        Is "good," as the "local" criterion for the evaluation of the intermediary results of the process of Creation, equivalent to "beauty“?

    10.      Why is it said in Chapter 1 of Genesis that God created Man and Woman simultaneously, but in Chapter 2, it says that God created Woman from Man? And then, there is the related question: “Why did God create Woman from Man”?

    11.      Are human beings the crown of the creative universe?

    12.      Why is God willing to engage in a struggle with a Man (Jacob) and accept criticism from a Man (Moses)?

    13.      Why does God forbid Adam and Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge?

    14.      Do good and evil coexist in God?

    15.      Can a Creator with the power to foresee everything destroy own creations?

    16.      What prompted God to impose unconditional demands upon the conduct of the Jews, including the Ten Commandments, while making these demands conditional (situation‑specific) with respect to rewards and punishments?

    17.       Why does God, who sees the wickedness of the serpent and who distinguishes between clean and unclean flesh, decide to tell Noah to take all the animals and to save them from the flood so that they can multiply afterwards?

    18.      Could the preservation of the Jewish nation be secured outside the Promised Land that is mentioned in the Torah?

     

    All of these questions are common and generally well known. There is a huge literature devoted to answering them. Yet, I have decided to encroach upon this well-tilted field. Scientific “truthfulness” of the texts being examined is an issue not relevant to this book. My goal, as I mentioned before, is to bring new insights to these 18 questions and do it mainly within the framework of my concept of indeterminism and its major category – predisposition.

    The role of a predisposition in systems development could be illustrated by the positional style of play in chess that I will briefly discuss in Chapter 2. I pay special attention to this special case of indeterminism, predisposition, because it is pivotal for my work. The answers to the 18 questions will revolve around the concept of a predisposition. I should make one more remark concerning my indeterministic method of analysis of the Torah: I fully understand its subjectivity.

     

    The following observation by Daniel Fuller (1992) is relevant here:

    In approaching the study of the Bible, we are naturally concerned to grasp what the writers themselves were trying to communicate in the books they wrote or formed from materials already at hand. But a big obstacle in accomplishing this goal is the presuppositions each of us readers has, for everyone already has something of a belief  system in place. Yet, if we study the Bible simply to have it reinforce convictions we already have, we gain little from our efforts. Therefore we should do our utmost to set aside previous ideas relevant to a text so that new understandings have a chance to illumine our minds, To be sure, none of us can distance ourselves completely from our presuppositions. But we must make the strongest possible effort to hold them at bay.  (p. 99)

    General indeterminism in the Torah does not rule out a deterministic perspective with respect to certain isolated events. The legitimacy of such a view has been confirmed to me by several scholars who approach the Torah from a deterministic classical perspective. I have a strong suspicion that the basic epistemology of the authors of the Torah, those people who collected the legends and the stories about events and social institutions and put them into this holy book, was rooted in an intuitive indeterministic vision of the development of the universe.

     

    Plunging into a speculative domain, one could advance the following reason on the part of the Torah’s authors for this indeterministic vision of the development of the universe and Man’s place in it. At the time the Torah was written, 3500-4000 years ago, the relative weight of the right and the left hemisphere of the brain in human cognition was very different what it is now. The authors of the Torah, in my view, accomplished most of their thinking using images, which involved the right hemisphere of the brain, rather than purely logical thinking, which involves the left hemisphere. It is believed that in the last 3000 years, especially after the advance of Aristotelian logic, the left hemisphere of the brain has been significantly enriched. The right hemisphere has progressed too, but to a lesser extent.

    As Nahum Sarna (1966) writes about the Torah’s stories,

    It should be obvious that by the nature of things, none of these stories can possibly be the product of human memory, nor in any modern sense of the word scientific accounts of the origin and nature of the physical world. Biblical man, despite his undoubted intellectual and spiritual endowments, did not base his views of the universe and its laws on the critical use of empirical data. He had not, as yet, discovered the principles and methods of disciplined inquiry, critical observation or analytical experimentation. Rather, his thinking was imaginative, and his expressions of thought were concrete, pictorial, emotional, and poetic. Hence, it is a naive and futile exercise to attempt to reconcile the biblical accounts of creation with the findings of modern science. Any correspondence which can be discovered or ingeniously established between the two must surely be nothing more than mere coincidence. Even more serious than the inherent fundamental misconception of the psychology of biblical man is the unwholesome effect upon the understanding of the Bible itself. For the net result is self-defeating. The literalistic approach serves to direct attention to those aspects of the narrative that reflect the time and place of its composition, while it tends to obscure the elements that are meaningful and enduring, thus distorting the biblical message and destroying its relevancy. (pp. 2-3)

    STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK

    The present book has two major parts. The first one contains comments on the first 11 questions that are mainly related to the creation of the universe. This part could be said to deal with the anatomy of the universe, with God as it creator. The second part in the main comments on the questions 12 through 18 concerning the performance of the created universe; its subject-matter is a physiology of the universe. Each part is divided into chapters. The total number of Chapters is 7.

    I will now provide a synopsis of the original points of view that I bring to each chapter.

    In Chapter 1, The Creation of the World, I consider the development of the whole universe as a creative process that involves the inorganic as well as the organic world. The first novel thought in this chapter has to do with trying to portray an evolutionist and a creationist approach to the development of the universe as parallel, in the sense that they are different modes of representation of the same process. This situation has obtained several times before in the history of science. For example, the extremal principle in mechanics that assumes that the motion of the planets follows an optimal course of the least action was for a while taken by religious scholars as the confirmation of the existence of God as the creator of the universe. On the other hand, the representation of the motion of planets via a system of differential equations, which is reminiscent of a cause-and-effect approach, was recognized as being more scientific. It took the genius of Leonard Euler (1707-1783) to prove that these two approaches are really only different ways of representing a single process and that they are mutually transformable.

    Secondly, I elaborate upon some known characteristics of God using my own ideas or ideas borrowed from other people. Thus, I apply to the text of the Torah the idea of an evolving God that was borrowed from Process Theology where it was developed mainly as a category of logic.

    The other novelty is an interpretation of God as a creator and not a wizard - the distinction suggested by Vera Ulea (2003). She devotes many pages in her fairytale to this distinction basing it on the duration of the development of an object: The creator does it in a prolonged way, while a wizard instantaneously performs miracles.

    There are two more novelties in this chapter. The first one is my view of God as a complex entity that combines feelings and rationality.  Feelings as values allow for making decisions quickly, but they are not well balanced or comprehensive. Rational decisions are more comprehensive but they require more time and might be inappropriate to fast running processes. That is why a complex entity synthesizes feelings and rationality using each of them in different situations. Sometimes this synthesis is even beyond the reach of God.

    Secondly, I recognize God as an asexual entity. Sexes are relevant to complex reproducible living beings; the relatively simple creatures multiply by fragmentation or via spores. If God is an irreproducible entity that exists forever and does not have a beginning and an end, it does not make sense to apply to God the categories of sexes.

    Chapter 2, The Ways the World Develops, contains several novelties. All of them revolve around my concept of Janus effect, which states that a creative process can be started either from the beginning or the end, and that in both cases one may not see straight connections between the points of departure and arrival.

    This brings me straight to the notion of the spectrum of degree of indeterminism (usually, the degree of determinism is expressed as a dichotomy – determinism versus indeterminism; as an aside, probability is irrelevant to the degree of indeterminism and concerns only the degree of uncertainty.). (See more in my book 1997b)

    The concept of the degree of indeterminism lays the groundwork for the new method of predispositioning that I widely use for the analysis of many events in the Torah. This category is analyzed using the multidimensional systems approach, i.e., from the functional, structural, operational, operatorial, and genesis approaches.

    For example, the functional approach allows us to see a predisposition as a category that influences the future while avoiding the necessity to forecast it.

    The structural approach allows us to see a predisposition as a set of material and relational components treated as independent variables and synthesized by unconditional values (see more concerning unconditional values in comments to chapter 5.)[3]

    The operational approach helps to distinguish between the notions of unexpected outcomes and mistakes.

    A mistake presumes that there exists a rule governing a certain course of action. A mistake is made when negative consequences result from the actions of someone who does not know the rule or forgets the rule. An unexpected outcome means that the creator has no way of knowing the consequences, since there was no rule for determining the best course of action.

    These definitions should help one interpret God’s actions as eliminating the negative unexpected outcomes that arise in the course of the development of the universe, and not as God correcting self-made mistakes. When God's corrections are explained in this vein, God still remains omnipotent, but in the sense of being able to recognize and correct previously unforeseen results of his actions post factum.

    The operatorial approach allows for the role of subjectivity in forming and evaluating predispositions; I understand subjectivity as a situation in which one is not able to separate the making of a judgment from the character of the actor that has to implement this judgment.  

    To illustrate the process of creating a predisposition, I offer a new interpretation of the idea of position in chess, following the algorithms of Claude Shannon and the measurement of aesthetic value elaborated by George Birkhoff.

    The method of predispositioning is not a traditional method of forecasting the future. This concept is relevant to the process of creation as it is expressed in the first chapter of the Torah, that does not explicitly mention that God has a final goal, or a plan, or makes any predictions as to the future of the world being created. It is rather reminiscent of biological evolution in the sense that it occurs in sequential steps without a plan (program) or a final goal. Still, one definite conclusion we can arrive at from reading the Torah is that God, together with creating predispositions, has a general tendency toward increasing negentropy. The last statement is not a novel one and has been made before. The novelty here lies in a new definition of negentropy as a function of two independent variablesorder and complexity - offered initially by Jamshid Gharajedaghi relative to living systems and developed by myself as a general system phenomenon. 

    Chapter 3, A Predisposition in the Torah. The material components of a predisposition I illustrate in a fairly novel way by telling the story of the emergence of two sexes. I do not deal with the continuing controversy about the order in which the sexes appeared, that is, who was first, male or female. It seems to me (see my book Evolutionary Change; Toward a Systemic Theory of Development and Maldevelopment. Newark: Gordon & Breach Publishing Group, 1997) that the reproduction of living beings has evolved from fragmentation and spores (a specialized reproductive cell) to two kinds of specialized reproductive cells that were originally contained within the self-fertilizing body. (e.g., African Snails.) Later on there emerged specialized bodies, male and female, and each keeps a certain kind of a reproductive cell with supporting procreative equipment.

    Concerning the relational components of a predisposition, I stress the parity between God and a Man as a leading feature of Judaism. One of the "enhancers," or vehicles that enormously helped to increase God’s power, is the creation of Man in God’s own image, after God’s likeness. (Genesis 1:26) Man was able to rule over some segment of the God‑created set of objects: the living organisms known at that time. At the same time, inorganic matter – the sea, the sun, the moon, the stars and the sky was not subservient to Man.[4] In spite of Man's limited ability to dominate the environment, his role is important enough for God to establish parity with some Men, those whom God had chosen, and made a covenant with.

    There are two basic preconditions for the covenant between God and Man to have any meaning. First, God must admit own limitations, and second, God must admit the greatness of Man. In this covenant, the parity between God and Man is reinforced by their partial comparability in both physical and intellectual power.

    The authors of the Torah provide examples of this parity. The story of the clash between Jacob and God (Genesis 32:24‑32) testifies to the notion of the physical power of Man as being comparable to that of God. In this struggle, God is unable to overcome Jacob. The authors of the Torah also tell of a number of concrete cases that testify to the intellectual comparability of God and Man. When God is angered by the disobedience of the Jewish people during their wanderings in the desert and decides to destroy them and replace them with a new nation originating from Moses' offspring, Moses protests and persuades God to preserve the people; God accepts this protest by Moses (Numbers, 14:11‑20). It would be consistent with my interpretation of the covenant if changes were introduced into the liturgy that radically underscored the greatness of a Man and brought a deeper understanding of the role of limitations on authority (see, for example, Deuteronomy 17:14-20), etc.

    The analysis of types of covenants leads me to propose a deductive scheme that views relationships between the participants in a transaction from the point of view of their rights and obligations. And I bring a new interpretation of the term "good" in the Torah’s evaluation of the stages in the creation of the world. If each stage is a predisposition, beauty is a proper equivalent of good. (See more in my book A Conceptual Understanding of Beauty. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2003.) Moreover, I make clear that evaluation of results has two aspects to it. One is the need to compare the envisioned image with the actual one. The other arises from the need to measure the impact of the current result upon the future. I assume, I believe plausibly, that at each moment God's creative abilities are limited, and God is therefore unable to ensure complete harmony between the envisioned outcome and the actual one. In other words, according to the authors of the Torah, although God completes whatever God has set out to do for that day (or part of that day), God is not certain that what has been created will completely conform to what was in God’s mind in the beginning. Therefore, God must evaluate its work at the end of the day (or part of the day).

    Chapter 4, Good and Evil in the Torah. Here I introduce several novelties. The first one is the explanation of why God organically does good and evil. The reason for it is God’s limited ability to foresee the future and sometimes God’s surrendering to emotions at the expense of rationality.

    The next novelty rests on the analogy between the separation of God and Devil and the zone melting process. The last one is an industrial method of separation by melting in which a series of molten zones traverses a long ingot of impure metal; the molten region melts impure solid at its forward edge and leaves a wake of purer material solidified behind it as it moves through the ingot. The impurities concentrate in the melt, and are moved to one end of the ingot. This analogy helps one understand the danger of separating God and Devil because this separation provides a powerful temptation to bring about a utopian world by eliminating evil that could be represented by a small group of people (capitalists, Jews, Armenians, etc.).

     Another novelty in this chapter concerns the interpretation of the danger of eating from the Tree of Knowledge. This danger is a result of a conflict between unexpected negative outcomes of human actions and the lack of power on the part of Man to correct these outcomes.

    And finally I introduce in this chapter the following novelty: a deep understanding by the authors of the Torah of the danger of innovations on the part of ordinary people. I developed a 2x2 matrix that combines the source of novel ideas (God or Man) and the entity that implements these ideas (God or Man). The analysis shows that a positive attitude towards novelties in the Torah is confined to those coming from God, even if they are implemented by Man. The Torah expresses a predominantly negative attitude towards novelties that come from Man and are implemented by Man.

    Chapter 5, Morality, Instrumental Values, Ethics, and Law. The major novelty of this chapter concerns my concept of the degree of conditionality of values. Between two extremes -- fully unconditional values and fully conditional values -- there is a spectrum of values such as unconditional, semi-conditional, etc. Moral and instrumental values tend, correspondingly, to the unconditional and the conditional extremes of this spectrum. The Torah is very rich in both moral as instrumental values (laws) compared to the Egyptian Book of the Dead that contains only moral values (chapter 42) and the Babylonian  codex that contains only Hammuraby’s laws. 

    The next novelty concerns the need for both moral and instrumental values. Moral values are not only guidelines for laws (instrumental values), they are also strategic constraints on local decisions that do not allow for unintended negative consequences inhering in an uncertain future. I also propose in this chapter a new interpretation of conscience as a global internal value implanted in human beings that makes them a microcosm - a proper self-acting being.

    Chapter 6, A Manifold and a Singular Variety in the Torah. At each stage in the creation of the world, God deals with a manifold, i.e. a set containing things with indistinguishable values. Only whole sets of things created at each stage were evaluated. After the creation of the world, the situation changes drastically. At that time, God discovers that, while a class of things (e.g., species) that was created is good and can be of use in the future, some of the singles in each class are bad and should be exterminated. At this time, God starts to deal with the set of created things in a way that may be described as creation of a singular variety where all singles in a class are distinguished by their value. In other words, God qualitatively preserved as a strategic constrain every class of beings that have been created, i.e. the manifold of creations. The only changes God made were in the proportions between singles in each class; e.g., the Flood changed the ratio of clean and unclean animals as well as people. (Only Noah's lineage was saved) The changes were tactical and were related to the creation of a singular variety.

    Chapter 7, A Manifold and a Singular Variety (Continued) is completely devoted to a novel view of a Jewish state. The Torah emphasizes that all Jew should be gathered in the Promised Land. The creation of Israel is an essential step in fulfilling this claim. Israel however is located in a dangerous environment surrounded by hostile Muslim countries and militarily dependent on a super power that has its own interest. May be it is reasonable under these conditions, without ceasing a major effort to preserve Israel, to spend some resources on the development of new ideas of a Jewish state. One such idea might be placing it on an artificial island in an open sea.

    There are different projects to create artificial islands, and some of them have been implemented or are in the process of implementation (see, for example, the island Libertarian Paradiso that is in the process of construction by a group of believers in the utopia outlined by Ayn Rand. They built this island in Florida and shipped it to the Caribbean Sea, some 120 miles from the Caymans. An article titled “Libertarian Paradiso concerning this project was published by Alex Heardin in The New York Times Magazine, August 9, 1998, pp.29-30) As a matter of fact, there is a design bureau in Israel (engineer Yuri Bak is the head of it) that is working on a project of large artificial islands.   

     

    As the end of this Introduction draws near, I would like to say that I fully understand that a book on the Torah written by an amateur looks bizarre in light of voluminous literature written on the subject over the centuries by Jewish and Christian authors. Nevertheless, I decided to write such a book anyway. It is not the first time that I have invaded a discipline that had already been thoroughly investigated. I refer the reader to my intrusions into the concepts of determinism-indeterminism (my books: 1992 and 1997a), biological evolution, including the nature of cancer (my other book: 1997b), and beauty (see my book: 2003). I took these adventurous steps because I thought that my indeterministic method of thinking could shed some new light on these old concepts. The answer to the question, "Are the thoughts expressed in these books valid, or are they just hot air blown off by a charlatan”? lies with professional readers.  One excuse for my intervention is that I have not found my thoughts about these matters repeated either in specialized literature or in discussions with several professionals.

    In any event, I share Robert Fulford's (1992) opinion concerning the intervention of non-professionals into well-established disciplines. In speaking about the book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs (along with other examples of this kind), Fulford says:

    Not only did she attack the most sacred beliefs of city planning, but Ms. Jacobs also helped to subvert an even more powerful orthodoxy: aca­demic credentialism, a religion whose central doc­trine states that no analysis of a subject of conse­quence can be taken seriously unless the writer has professional credentials, preferably at the doctoral or postdoctoral level. This idea was then relatively new. The writing of serious books by nonspecialists, on subjects ranging from geology to linguistics, had been central to Western culture in the last century and the first decades of this one. In more recent times, however, specialists have pushed amateurs to the margins; the uncredentialed writer may now easily be dismissed as a popularizer or a publicist, some­ one who absorbs the ideas of specialists and then simplifies them, or oversimplifies them, for the public. In retrospect it becomes clear that some of the most powerful books of any given period have been written in defiance of credentialist assumptions. From this distance we can see that the period that gave us "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" was especially rich in this kind of writing. The first half of the 1960's produced a cluster of significant books written by authors who were not officially learned or were stepping boldly outside their specializations. They are not of uniform quali­ty and not all of them are as readable today as Ms. Jacobs's book is, but they show similarities of background and effect. (p.28)


     



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