Does belief in Torah mean every word is true?


There’s a famous story in the Talmud about a smart aleck who asks the sages Hillel and Shammai to teach him all of Torah while he stands on one foot. Hillel’s response is well
known: “What is hateful to you, do not do unto others All the rest is commentary.”

Shammai, however, wasn’t nearly as solicitous. “Do you think I have time to waste on people who mock our holy Torah?” he asks, and swings a stick at him.

I wonder if any of the Republican candidates felt an urge like Shammai’s during last month’s CNN-YouTube debate, when Joseph Dearing from Dallas asked his question. “How you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you,” said Dearing, brandishing a Bible. “Do you believe every word of this book? And I mean specifically this book that I’m holding in my hand. Do you believe this book?”

It was kind of fun to watch the candidates squirm. You could guess they were struggling between the urge to pander to the evangelical base and their own intellectual honesty, or whatever is left of it after months on the campaign trail.

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