Biblical scholars have debated this question for centuries. The most traditional readers of the Torah, of course, tell us the whole thing is the LITERAL word of God. At the other end of the spectrum, some maintain that there is no God
I recently read a Torah commentary written by Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, who was the head of the Jewish Theological Seminary when I began my studies there. Rabbi Schorsch cited a provocative midrash (story
According to this midrash, human beings wrote the actual commandments... but God spoke the first letter to get things started. There's just one problem: Aleph is a silent letter! So what could that possibly have sounded like?!? That, of course, is the beauty of this mystical interpretation. It was the Divine Breath, a still, small wisp of air; but one that inspired the entire Torah, and changed the course of all of human history.
Photos in this blog post:
3. The first word of the first commandment: "Anochi" - "I am"
4. The stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, but with just the Aleph, the first letter of the first word of the first commandment, depicted. (Sadly, this is not the artistic piece from the Tel Aviv synagogue. We were there on Shabbat, so I did not take pictures, and I couldn't find an image of it online. Sorry.)