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I borrowed (with permission) a question from Ahmed Han, which is:

People of every religion claim that they are the ones in the right path. Even the people of sects in these religions think that they are on a better path than the peoples of other sects are on. How come could they be so sure?

As a Muslim, how can I be sure that my religion or sect/madhab/path is the rightful one? How can I be sure that there isn't any other religion sent by Allah which is better than Islam, but it is wrongly advertised so that I think that it is wrong?

Change some words and we get:

People of every religion claim that they are the ones in the right path. Even the people of sects in these religions think that they are on a better path than the peoples of other sects are on.

As a someone who believes in Judaism, how can you be sure that the religion is the rightful one? How can I be sure that there isn't any other religion sent by God which is better than Judaism, but it is wrongly advertised so that I think that it is wrong?

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+1. Looks like you were right, though. Also, extremely related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/13764/… –  HodofHod Aug 21 '12 at 19:45
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I get asked this question a lot and I find that he simplest answer is to say "Judaism is only the right path for you if you are Jewish." There might be religions sent by god which are better, but are not for you because he made you as a Jew. That's it -- no competition, just parallel paths. Yes, there are implications and consequences which are problematic, but the underlying approach resolves the question. God wants you to be who you are, not someone else. –  Danno Aug 21 '12 at 22:43
    
Nice answer/comment Dan. It's similar to my personal belief system. Maybe you want to make that an answer instead of a comment. –  user1550 Aug 21 '12 at 23:03
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@Danno, that may end the conversation but it doesn't resolve anything. It merely begs the question. –  Yirmeyahu Jul 4 '13 at 15:46
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אזוי שטייט אין דעם רמב"ם - Because Rambam says so, and the Raavad doesn't argue :) –  Efraim Feb 13 at 21:43

5 Answers 5

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Rabbi Kelemen’s book Permission to Receive is essential reading and provides four rational approaches to the Torah’s Divine origin. I can’t summarise it here.

The best evidence is our Mesorah – the tradition of transmission of the Torah.

The link site also has articles on our history with the critical paragraph:

On the fiftieth day after they began counting the Omer--that is, fifty-one days after the Exodus, all of the Children of Israel, men, women and children, over two million people, stood at Mount Sinai and received the Torah amidst great miracles and heavenly fire. They saw no form or picture of G-d, but they saw many miracles that proved that G-d is the Creator of heaven and earth. They heard G-d's voice speak and command Moses to instruct the Children of Israel on how to prepare to receive the Torah. Then they heard G-d speaking directly to them, the Children of Israel, and commanding them to keep the Torah. The Children of Israel accepted the Torah and all its Commandments, and they said: "We agree to obey, even before we hear the actual Commandments."

The article that establishes the age of the Torah is also worth looking at.

We have had the Torah for at least 3,313 years, when Hashem gave it to us at Mount Sinai.

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The quoted paragraph is the main point. You won't find another religion making the same claim, because it is impossible to fake, and almost impossible to imagine faking, unlike a revelation to an individual, or small group. –  Yishai Aug 21 '12 at 21:47
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@Yishai But it is very possible that the number started smaller, and grew zeros on the end of it as time progressed. –  Double AA Aug 21 '12 at 23:49
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@AvrohomYitzchok I was not arguing for that model and I certainly believe in Torah MiSinai! All I'm pointing out is that the 'proof' everyone quotes in the name of the Kuzari is not such a good one. If that was the entire basis of your religion then I'm sorry for you and for your teachers who taught you to be that way, but I see no reason to not discuss the merits of the MT source which you quoted, nor why the discussion I brought above cannot be had from a MT perspective. –  Double AA Aug 23 '12 at 2:51
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@DoubleAA You seem to be saying you have a better basis for belief or a better proof than other ones like those that you point out flaws in. I'd love to see your personal answer for belief in Judaism. –  A L Jul 24 '13 at 1:50
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@DoubleAA I second AL's request! –  Shraga Sep 28 '13 at 20:30

This is a very complex question (since there are many sub-questions etc)

In order to answer this question, one must know what religion is, as well as the basic parts of religion (like prayer, punishment and reward etc), and how this fits in to our ideology (vs others).

In order to get a satisfying answer I would suggest some reading up on it.

Here are some good places to start:

  • Kuzari (a sefer - translated into English - that discusses Judaism vs Christianity, Islam, and Aristotelianism)
  • Bachya ibn Pekuda wrote Chovos Halevovos (Duties of the Heart - also translated into English)
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Chovos HaLevavos was written by Bachya ibn Pekuda –  b a Aug 21 '12 at 19:37
    
Thanks for the correction –  pzkd Aug 21 '12 at 19:39
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I don't think this is really much of an answer to the question. Perhaps you could sumarize some of the main points from those sfarim? –  Daniel Aug 21 '12 at 20:49
    
Also maybe just add the Kuzari Principle –  soandos Aug 21 '12 at 20:59
    
I updated the answer a bit... as far as some proof, one famous one is the fact that there were 600,000 adults that witnessed the giving of the Torah, and since then in every generation no less than 600,000 people transmitted it to the next generation. –  pzkd Aug 21 '12 at 21:18

Rabi Umori, Harav Yosef Mizrahi has a three part lecture called Torah and Science where he proves with irrefutable proofs that the Torah is Divine and that Islam and Christianity are nonsense. It is around four hours but it 100% worth it in my opinion for Hizuk and evidence.

Here are a few from Harav Mizrahi (and possibly other sources):

  • The Talmud states (Berachoth 32b) the following “Said to her the Holy One, Blessed is He, my daughter, twelve Mazaloth I have created in the sky, and for Mazal I have created thirty Chil and for each of the Chil I have created thirty Legions, and for each Legion I have created thirty Rahaton and for each Rahaton I have created thirty Karaton and for each Karaton I have created Gastra and for each Gastra I have attached 365,000’s of 10,000 of starts, corresponding to the days of the solar year, and all of them I have created only for your sake.” The total number of starts in the universe is 1018 or 1,064,340,000,000,000,000,000. According to the Arizona State University, the number of stars in the world is about 10⑱. Interestingly enough, the Talmud was written over 1700 years ago, while the gentiles in the world presumed there were about 4000-8000 stars (see Raziel HaMalach pg. 54).
  • According to Chochise College: “They theory of Pangea is that millions of years ago all the continents were joined together in one enormous land mass known as Pangea.” The super-commentary on the Bible, the Iben Ezra writes (Genesis 1:2) in accordance with this statement. He writes quote “First G-d created one continent, but then split into seven continents. The Iben Ezra lived from 1089-1164. Iben Ezra lived before Australia, Antarctica, and America were discovered. Until recent years this was not known to gentiles, however since our sages have divine assistance in all their works, they receive knowledge that is not known to the regular man. Thus revealing the knowledge that G-d has before all others.
  • The prophet Jeremiah writes (Jeremiah 50:9) “For, behold, I will stir up and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country; and they shall set themselves in array against her, from thence she shall be taken; their arrows shall be as of a mighty man that make childless; none shall return in vain.” The essential commentary, the Malbim writes 200 years ago “The arrows strong as is smart; the enemy’s arrows will be like they have a ‘brain’ and they will take themselves to their destination.” Jeremiah, over 2500 years ago knew about the Gulf War, and the Malbim knew about the missiles that control their own path.
  • Due to our advanced knowledge of science, today we have learned that when the snake sheds its’ skin it feels excruciating pain. We only received this knowledge merely 50 years ago. However, the Bible knew of this 3320 years ago. The verse reads (Genesis 2:14) “And the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed be you more than all the cattle and more than all the beasts of the field...’” Meaning the Torah knew of the pain that the snake was feeling much before modern science discovered it.
  • The Talmud (Nidah 6:9) states “Everything in the ocean that has scales must have fins.” Keep in mind, this text was written over 1800 years ago. The text is almost saying that they have searched through the millions of species of animals in the ocean and never saw a fish that has scales and not fins. The only possible way that that Rabbi could have known this is 2000 years ago, is if they either went to the depths of the ocean (without submarines or special technology) and studied every living creature beneath the water (something that even scientists today haven’t even completed yet), or they had recieved it through tradition from Mt. Sinai.
  • Scientists today have learned that water does exist in the cosmos. However, our Torah knew about this many thousands of years of years ago. The verse states (Genesis 1:7) “And created the firmament; and He separated between the waters beneath the firmament and between the waters that are above the firmament.”
  • The Torah states (Deuteronomy 28:36) “And you shall serve other gods of wood and stone...” As mentioned many times the Torah is over 3300 years old in its revelation. Thus it shouldn’t have known about Christianity 1300 years prior to its beginning or about Islam 2000 years before it began. However, it did because as we know Christians worship the cross, and Muslims worship wood (Mecca), and Vilna Goan (Adereth Eliyahu) explains this verse in this way. Hence, the Torah knew about them many years before they even began.

And many, many more...

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Are these supposed to be irrefutable? –  Double AA Jul 4 '13 at 20:26
    
@DoubleAA I didn't do them justice the way I wrote them (no sources, and lack of explanation). –  Hacham Gabriel Jul 4 '13 at 23:39
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Don't blame yourself. Some are clearly not fixable. Like quoting the Malbim's explanation of a 16th century non-Jew's misprint of Tanach? That's just useless from the outset. –  Double AA Jul 5 '13 at 6:20
    
@HachamGabriel What's the actual Hebrew for the Ibn Ezra? (I can't verify it myself but it sounds like some Kaballistic talk about 7 worlds or something.) Also I'd point out that, firstly, Eurasia is one landmass (Eurpoe and Asia as separate is just a cultural construct). And secondly, there are much more than 7 tectonic plates. –  A L Jul 15 '13 at 23:53
    
@HachamGabriel Also what is your source regarding the snake shedding pain? All the information I've seen relating to that is that the process is painless (and it grows the new layer of skin first and then pushes the old one off, not like it rips off living skin). –  A L Jul 15 '13 at 23:54

some other indications of the authenticity of the torah.

  1. the laws of shmita (Parsha Behar) (every seven years everyone in israel must stop working the land for the whole year. God promises to provide a bumper crop prior to the Shmita year to sustain the Jewish people). furthermore, in the yovel year this would be two consecutive years where noone planted anything. What human in his right mind would fabricate such a claim and risk mass starvation? (if this were agricultural reasons, it would not be necessary to stop all the land simultaneously and it would be crazy to promise a bumper crop after six straight years of harvesting the land. Usually the opposite happens after 6 straight years.)

  2. 3 times a year, every year, during the temple era, all Jewish males are commanded to leave their homes and go to Jerusalem for the festivals. God promised: "Nobody will desire your land while you are going up to see the face of the Lord your God three times in the year." (Ex 34:24) Who else could make such a claim but God? No human being in his right mind would enact such a law, leaving his army vulnerable to being encircled and easily defeated. Turns out it proved true that no foreign nation ever came up to take the land of the Jews during their festivals prior to the destruction of Jerusalem 400+ years later.

  3. Kosher. The torah informs us that there is only one animal that has split hooves and does not chew its cud - the pig. Who else but God could claim this? (see this link for more on this: http://www.aish.com/tp/b/lp/48944171.html )

  4. "all fish with scales have moving fins" - who else but God can claim this. (see above link). (some invoke the "sea snake" or "sea eel" as a "refutation" but these scales are embedded in the skin unlike normal fish which are armor-like and come off without peeling off the skin. the hebrew word for scales "kaskasim" is the same as for armor. see: this or this)

  5. The torah's prophecies of the return of the Jews to Israel. (can a nation exiled from its homeland and splintered into a dozen minor ethnic groups for 2,000 years, have the ability and resolve to return en masse to their homeland and become a universally recognized world power?)

  6. Miraculous victories of the israeli army in the early wars (see for example: http://www.chabad.org/multimedia/timeline_cdo/aid/525341/jewish/Introduction.htm or http://www.benmelech.org/z-def/english/israel-bailey.htm) Even Ben Gurion who was a secular Jew is quoted as saying: "In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles".

  7. The Tzadikim - those who have had the merit and opportunity of meeting with the Tzadikim (righteous sages) of the generation know that even today, we can find shadows of "prophecy".

  8. the infinite wisdom/depth of the Torah, which is evident to all who study it in depth.

  9. Jews don't go around trying to convert nonjews. on the contrary, they try to discourage potential converts, that it will be too much for them to take on. This is due to the confidence in the timeless truths of Judaism. Those who have a bad product must constantly advertise to lure more suckers. Those who have a good product can rely on word of mouth.

Two more points brought by Rabbi Yaakov Emden (200 years ago, quoted in Masoret Yisrael edition of Chovos Halevavos end of gate 10):

The sign of the truth of these things are from two faithful, visible, witnesses:

One, our situation and survival in this long exile, which the Creator fulfilled His promise: "But despite all this, while they are in the land of their enemies, I will not despise them nor will I reject them to annihilate them, thereby breaking My covenant that is with them, for I am the L-ord their G-d" (Vayikra 26:44)...

Two, the matter of our land, because from the day we went out of it, no nation was able to dwell in it, it was like a woman who's husband went on a faraway trip, and she waits for him, and the verse "I will make the Land desolate, so that it will become desolate [also] of your enemies who live in it" (Vayikra 26:32), tells us it is guarded for us...all this are clear signs that our hope is not lost and G-d's love has not left us, and on this eternal love is based Shir Hashirim, and just like G-d loves us a strong love, "Torrents of water are not able to extinguish the love" (Shir Hashirim 8:7), so too it is our duty to show our powerful and complete love, like "As water reflects a face back to a face, so one's heart is reflected back to him by another" Mishlei 27:19) END QUOTE (and our survival, despite that we don't try to convert nonjews, and even discourage them from converting to Judaism.)

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1,2 are less crazy than many other things pagans were talking about back then. 4 has been disproven. 8 seems circular. –  Double AA Jul 4 '13 at 8:15
    
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@AL Who knows and who cares? It's completely within the realm of possibility for tribes back then and that's all that matters. –  Double AA Jul 4 '13 at 20:21
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@ray Do you consider jellyfish to be fish? Do you consider manatees to be fish? Do you consider dolphins to be fish? Do you consider seals to be fish? Do you consider squid to be fish? Do you consider octopuses to be fish? Do you consider sharks to be fish? Are lampreys fish? Are penguins fish? I'm kind of confused with how you're drawing the distinctions. I mean I don't think whales are more fish-like than manatee-like (caudal fin orientation, blow hole, nipples). It seems like sometimes you think of fish only as those classified as bony fish and then come up with select exceptions. –  A L Jul 5 '13 at 23:07
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forget the whole fish thread. the point is the talmud says anything with armor-like scales also has moving fins and that there are no exceptions. the eels and sea snakes are not exceptions because their scales dont fit the requirement see chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/623273/jewish/… or kosherquest.org/bookhtml/FISH.htm or star-k.org/cons-faqs-status.htm#eel –  ray Jul 6 '13 at 20:53

From the very fact that there are so many heated disagreements between Jewish groups, and even within each group there are disagreements, yet they all concur on the essential beliefs in Judaism it must be true.

For example, (besides believing in תורה מסיני and in Moshe Rabeinu and things like that) there is no group within Jews who use less than 10 men for a Minyan; There is no group that does not make Kiddush on Shabbos (except if it's Yom Kippur); A big one is, the fact that even though the Torah says about the month of Nissan החודש הזה לכם ראש חדשים and there is a disagreement (between R. Eliezer and R. Yehoshua) if the world was created in Nissan or in Tishrei, yet you will not find a Jew who will tell you that Rosh Hashannah is the first day of Nissan!

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But the first of Nissan is a rosh hashana! –  Double AA Aug 11 '13 at 7:57
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@Double AA I'm glad you found something to say. –  Meir Zirkind Aug 11 '13 at 16:25
    
????????????????? –  Double AA Aug 12 '13 at 0:26

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