Friday, July 27, 2012

Philosophy or ma'amad har Sinai al regel achad

This morning, we are driving to my chiropractor's appointment. 6 yo and 2 yo davened at home before we left and 8 yo davened in the car, kind of quickly, because he wanted me to turn Handel's "Water Music" back on. Then out of the blue, he asks me, how do we know that Torah is from Hashem? I clarified his question, and I explained that Torah was given to Moshe by Hashem and we have Jewish people gathering around Har Sinai in a public event as proof ( for a thorough article on this approach, click here ). I gave an example of an earthquake which happened when I was  a child. I described my experience and said that the details of it would vary from person to person, but, if he would ask other family members who were there, the basic facts would be the same. Then I explained that if he would ask other people who lived in the same region, they would all tell him about this earthquake and he would have to conclude that it really happened, even if he was not there. Next step is for him to tell his children about this earthquake, and then they would tell their children. That would become a family story, which would be confirmed by children of others, who had the same story. Based on this evidence, one living many years from now would have to conclude that there really was an earthquake. I explained that's the reason that Torah was given in a public ceremony, so that there would be many witnesses to the revelation, and they would all have the same story to tell their children, and to corroborate the written account.

He listened to it and said that he has proof that Torah is not true, why else would it bother telling us everything that is in Breshit ( Genesis)? I said, aha, you hit upon Rashi's question on the first pasuk in the Torah, we was also wondering why the Torah did not start with giving us mitzvot and instead tells us the long story beforehand. I am hoping to show him that Rashi today.

Now this is basic philosophical questions underlying Judaism. I had theses premises explained to me in highschool. I know that I was lucky to go to a school where such questions and discussions were encouraged. I know that there are plenty of kids who grow up doing Torah without ever considering if it's true. It has been hammered into them that it's so and that's the end of the story.

The fact that these questions spontaneously arise in my son's mind and he is willing to discuss them are my proof that I am doing something right with this whole homeschooling thing. I keep thinking how to further our immersion in Torah, the way that we are immersed in science and reading and math.

On the way back, we passed by Best Buy. 6 yo asked, is it really the best buy tat happens inside? I told him that the store would like its customers to think so, even if its products or prices might be inferior. Now this Best Buy was next to The Dump, and that was the next question, how is that a good name for a store? I explained again how it attracts bargain hunters by making them think that whatever's is dumped there must be a good deal. That led to a discussion about opening up a vegetable stand and how one would want to have varied produce for sale, in large enough quantities. Somehow, we were discussing supply and demand, scarcity, pricing. I hope that all these early conversations about consumer economics will have impact later on, when the kids will have to be making purchasing decisions.

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