A Divine Integration

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The Torah’s sacred, revealed character is not the result of a single act or event, at Sinai or any other single time or place. It is the result of a process, too complex and clouded in history to be convincingly reconstructed. But what Buber and Rosenzweig have emphasized is that the religious, theological centrality of the Torah does not depend on its historical origins but on its divine source as a textual space in which the encounter between God and humanity can take place.

Buber and Rosenzweig’s Rabbenu is not, historically, Moshe Rabbenu—Moses our Teacher—but the Torah that R produced is Torah min ha-shamayim—divinely given Torah. The holiness of the Torah depends not on the historical processes by which the Torah came to be a text—the “voices in the chorus,” as Buber put it. It depends on our hearing the divine Voice that is met in the integrated Torah.

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Edward L. Greenstein is professor of Bible at Tel Aviv University and author of Reader Responsibility: The Making of Meaning in Biblical Narrative.