November 18, 2013

How Did the Torah Exist Before it Happened?


Could you explain to me how Jacob could study Torah "in the tents" if Torah was given to Moses centuries later? And could you explain how Jacob could study the Torah in which he, too, is a character? No rabbi so far has provided me a satisfactory explanation.


This is discussed in many places in Talmud and Midrash. Not only Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but also Noah and even Adam knew the Torah. Concerning Noah, the Torah itself writes clearly that G-d told him to take onto his ark "of the animal which is ritually pure (tahor), seven, seven." Apparently, he was expected to know for himself that pigs are not ritually pure and cows are.

What was the Torah before it was given to us? The Torah is G-d's wisdom, as He considers Himself, as He considers us and as He considers His world. It contains the wisdom with which He creates the world and manages it. Think of a concept paper that a producer might write before developing a video game or some other such product. 

The Torah contains exactly that (and much more). Each of the lofty souls we mentioned was able to attain insight into this wisdom and thereby know the hidden most secrets of the universe.

Moses was special in several regards. First of all, Moses was able to see all of the Torah with perfect vision, crystal clear.

Secondly, Moses was empowered to bring this Torah to all the people, so that each person could receive the entire Torah, as he had, each on his own level, for all generations.
Thirdly, at Mt. Sinai the Torah was no longer just a wisdom, but a command. Until then, it was up to the individual whether he wished to practice it or not. From then on, every adult Jew became responsible to fulfill all the Torah.

So let's get back to your question: Does this mean that all these enlightened individuals saw their whole lives mapped out before them? Did Jacob, for example, see in the Torah the entire story of Joseph being thrown in a pit and sold as a slave by his brothers? Did Isaac see that Esau would try to kill Jacob?

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