Reason 19 - Deeply Entrenched Belief
The deeply entrenched belief in the Torah throughout Jewish history
Rabbi Shmeul Waldman in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2004) writes at 85-86:
The laws of writing a Torah scroll are extremely stringent. We … have a national practice of reading a weekly portion of Torah publicly in the synagogue. This is arranged in a way that the entire Torah is read in a one-year span. If a mistake is found while reading from the Torah, it is immediately put away, and it will not be used again until it is properly amended. All these laws protect the accuracy of the Torah’s transmission from generation to generation.
It is no wonder that Josephus wrote thirteen hundred years after the Torah was given (about two thousand years ago) (Contra Apion 1:8):
How firmly we have given credit to those books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them, or take anything from them, or make any changes in them. All Jews imbibe with their mother’s milk the belief that these books are of Divine origin, as well as the resolve to remain faithful to them, and willingly, if need be, to die for them. For it is no new thing for our [Jewish] captives, many in number, and frequently in time, to be seen to endure racks [a form of torture] and deaths of all kinds in their theaters, rather than be forced to say one word against our laws, and the records that contain them.
We must ask ourselves, what was it that gave these Jews this firmly entrenched belief? The answer is; it is our unequalled powerful chain of our tradition as explained in the beginning of Maimonides’ introduction to his Mishneh Torah. He writes of how our laws and traditions (and as explained above, our Torah Scrolls as well) have been handed down from Moses, in an unbroken chain, through the times of the Prophets, down to the post-Temple era, down through the period of the Mishnah, and down through the period of the Talmud. Following the Talmudic period was the period of the Geonim, which was quite close to the times of Maimonides himself. Maimonides lists the names of each generation’s leaders, and the names of their disciples, who in turn gave over the laws and traditions to their disciples. It’s well-known, unbroken chain that goes back to Moses himself, together with the tradition of the Great Revelation to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai that has kept us so strong and unwavering in our beliefs.