The Wisdom of the Talmud, by Ben Zion Bokser, , at sacred-texts.com
p. 84 p. 85
The Talmudists, like their Biblical predecessors, assert the existence of God, and from the perspective of that assertion interpret all life in the universe. They do not engage in any formal efforts to prove God's existence. Yet there are passages in their writings which show that they could follow the logic of the philosophers and reason from nature to a first cause. Such reasoning is put by the rabbis into the mind of Abraham as they trace the odyssey of his own faith, from idolatry to monotheism. According to one account Abraham inferred the existence of God by contemplating the universe as one may infer the existence of some master when viewing a palace brilliantly illuminated within. "Can it be that the universe and all that exists within it is without a directing mind?" Abraham is quoted as speculating. The universe in itself did not, however, answer Abraham's quest. God met him halfway, and rewarded his groping by revealing Himself to him with the reassuring word of His presence. "The Lord looked upon him and said: 'I am the master of the universe.'"1
The assertion that the universe is the creation of God does not make clear the many varied and intriguing problems that the contemplation of existence presents to alert minds. What, for instance, was before creation? And how did creation itself really transpire to fashion a universe out of nothing? But the Talmudists discouraged the preoccupation with such problems. They held the ultimate mysteries of
the world beyond human comprehension, and they felt that the concentration upon them, a futile enterprise, in the long run, would only have the immediate effect of distracting men's minds from the more pressing tasks of religious and moral duty.
Their apprehensions were reinforced by the tragic experiences of the famous four teachers who had studied the ultimate mysteries: Akiba, Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma and Elisha ben Abuyah. A cryptic passage tells of their fate: "Ben Azzai gazed and died; Ben Zoma gazed and became demented; Acher (Elisha) cut the plants (turned apostate); R. Akiba departed in peace." The Talmudists therefore warned their people with the well-known citation from Ben Sira: "Seek not out the things that are too hard for thee, and into the things that are too hidden inquire thou not. In what is permitted to thee instruct thyself; thou hast no business with secret things."
The distinction between "what is permitted" and the "secret things" which are not permitted, is set forth in the Talmudic observation as to why Scripture commences with the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the Beth, rather than with the first. The explanation is seen in the symbolism which that letter's shape, a square open on the left side, suggests: "As the letter beth is closed on all sides and only open in front, you are to regard as closed to inquiry what was before creation or what is behind; what is open begins from the actual time of creation."2
The rabbis, following the style of the Bible, frequently spoke of God as though He were a person. They ascribe to Him bodily attributes. It is clear however, on the basis of their own declarations, that these "corporeal" references to God were often intended only to make vivid the sense of His existence and activity. All such references are to be taken as figurative expressions. Even the story of God's revelation at Sinai is taken in the Talmud by one teacher in a figurative way. "Moses never ascended to heaven," declared
[paragraph continues] Rabbi Jose and "God never descended on earth." The Biblical narrative is to be taken as a poetic elaboration of the doctrine that God was the inspiration for the truths which Israel pledged itself to uphold at Sinai. It must not be taken literally.
The rabbis insisted repeatedly that God is not a concrete being, with tangible form, occupying a specific magnitude in space. Such a being would be part of the universe, not its master. Indeed, one of the epithets by which God is referred to in the Talmud is "The Place", for God is the "place" or the ground of creation; the universe exists in Him not He in the universe. In the words of the Midrash "The Holy One, blessed be He, is the place of His universe, but His universe is not His place."3
But by a paradox of the divine mystery God, though transcending the universe, is yet ever present, and men can enter into close and intimate communication with Him, wherever they are. This is the significance of the revelation of God perceived by Moses at the burning bush—it is to teach us that there is no place which is devoid of God's presence, not even so humble an object as a thorn bush. Another rabbi declared: "At times the universe and its fulness are insufficient to contain the glory of God's presence; at other times He speaks with man in intimate discourse."4
The assertion that God is invisible made him unreal for people accustomed to identify reality with concreteness. But the rabbis disputed this. Thus it is related in a Talmudic anecdote that the Emperor Hadrian had said to Rabbi Joshua ben Hananiah: "I desire to behold your God." Rabbi Joshua explained to him that it was impossible. When the emperor persisted, the rabbi asked him to stand in a fixed gaze at the sun. The emperor found the sun too strong. Thereupon the rabbi exclaimed: "You admit that you are unable to look at the sun, which is only one of the ministering servants of the Holy One, blessed be He; how much more beyond your power of vision is God Himself." Rabban
[paragraph continues] Gamaliel explained the reality of God by analogy to the soul whose specific abode we do not know and of which we have no direct concrete experience. That, however, does not make it unreal.5
God's ultimate essence must elude human comprehension. We may, however, see manifestations of divine activity throughout creation.
The Talmudists saw a manifestation of God in the dynamism of the world. The universe is not a mass of inert matter. It is an enterprise of tremendous dynamic activity. "The universe is filled with the might and power of our God.… He formed you and infused into you the breath of life. He stretched forth the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth. His voice blows out flames of fire, rends mountains asunder, and shatters rocks. His bow is fire and His arrows flames. His spear is a torch, His shield the clouds, and His sword the lightning. He fashioned mountains and hills and covered them with grass. He makes the rains and dew to descend, and causes the vegetation to sprout. He also forms the embryo in the mother's womb and enables it to issue forth as a living being."6
In this vast panorama of existence, moreover, there is the evidence of a purposeful Intelligence at work. No organism is superfluous. A close scrutiny of the world shows everywhere an all-permeating intelligence and purpose. We see the evidence of that design in the vastness of the planetary system, in the individuality of each rain drop, in the majesty of trees that renew their garb of green in spring, in the mysteries of love which bind men and women in the unity of marriage. "Even such things as you deem superfluous in the world, such as flies and gnats are necessary parts of the cosmic order and were created by the Holy One, blessed be He, for His purpose—yes even serpents and frogs." Indeed, every creature in its own way, by its mere existence, and by the precision with which it functions in the
world, offers eloquent testimony to the divine source from which it is derived.7
It is in man that the design of creation shows itself most forcefully. The Talmudists admired the marvellous construction of the human body in which every organ seemed so perfectly designed for the well-being of the individual and the furtherance of life. "Come and see how many miracles the Holy One, blessed be He, performed with man, and he is unaware of it. Were he to eat a piece of bread which is hard, it would descend into the intestines and scratch them; but the Holy One, blessed be He, created a fountain in the middle of the throat, which enables the bread to move down safely." "If the bladder is pricked by only a needle, all the air in it comes out; but man is made with numerous orifices, and yet the breath in him does not come out."
How unlike the work of man is the handiwork of God! The best of man's work has the mark of his imperfection, but what the Lord has wrought is beyond criticism. "When a human being builds a palace, people often come and criticize. If the pillars were taller, they say, if the roof were only higher, it would be better! But has man ever come and said, If I had three eyes or three hands or three legs, if I walked on my head or my head were turned backward, I should have preferred it? … The Holy One … decided upon every limb which you have and set it in its proper place."8
The conception of the universe as the offspring of a plan, as the perfect embodiment of God's design, implied a certain order in its actions. A universe that behaved capriciously would reflect adversely on the plan by which it was fashioned. Thus the rabbis were moved to affirm uninterrupted regularity as one of the characteristics of life in the universe. This did not rule out miracles for them, however. According to one interpretation miracles were provided for
at the very time when God brought the universe into being. These events seem deflections from the norm to us, but they are not breaks in the plan which actually made room for them. As the Midrash put it: "At the creation God made a condition with the sea that it should be divided to permit the children of Israel to pass, with the sun and the moon to stand still at the bidding of Joshua, with the ravens to feed Elijah …"
The age of miracles was not altogether past, however. Some of the leading Talmudists were described as miracle workers. Such stories were associated especially with Rabbi Pinhas ben Yair and Rabbi Haninah ben Dosa. For those who had the sensitivity to see, moreover, there were miracles transpiring daily throughout creation. "Greater is the miracle that occurs when a sick person escapes from perilous disease than that which happened when Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah escaped from the fiery furnace." And the tortuous manner in which a family in distress manages to eke out an existence is as great a miracle as the parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites.9
What is the purpose of human life? Why did God bring man upon the arena of existence? It is that he might glorify his Maker through the cultivation of virtue and the continued perfection of his life. The Talmud abounds in discussions as to what is meant by the perfection of life. In the fullest elaboration of their thinking we are offered a vast body of ideals and rules of action by which a person would please his Maker and thus justify his own existence. The principal demand is ethical—to act with compassion and loving-kindness towards God's creatures. Thus Rabbi Akiba pointed to the golden rule as the most comprehensive teaching of the Torah. "This is the most fundamental principle enunciated in the Torah," he taught, "'Love thy neighbor as
thyself'" (Lev. 19:18). Ben Azzai made the Torah's fundamental teaching not the golden rule but the doctrine on which it is ultimately based—that man is made in the divine image: "This is the book of the generations of man … in the likeness of God made He him" (Gen. 5:1).10
The Talmudists saw, however, that the anchor on which all the elements of the good life rest, is the recognition of God's sovereignty. It is the reverence for God that ultimately inspires the attitudes and the actions that spell ethical living.
This conception of the relationship between belief in God and the moral life is conveyed in a number of Talmudic discussions. There is the well-known homily by Rabbi Simlai: "Six hundred and thirteen commandments were addressed to Moses—three hundred and sixty-five prohibitions corresponding to the days of the solar year, and two hundred and forty-eight positive commandments corresponding to the number of limbs in the human body. David came and reduced them to eleven principles, which are listed in Psalm 15. Isaiah came and reduced them to six as is said, 'He that walketh righteously and speaketh uprightly, he that despiseth the gain of oppression, that shaketh his hands from holding bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from looking upon evil' (Is. 33:15). Micah came and reduced them to three, as it is written, 'What does the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God' (Micah 6:8). Isaiah subsequently reduced them to two, as it is said, 'Thus saith the Lord, keep ye justice and do righteousness' (Is. 56:1). Lastly came Habakkuk and reduced them to one, as it is said, 'The righteous shall live by his faith'" (Hab. 2:4).11
Because faith in God is the source of the moral life, the rabbis regarded a morality that is not rooted in piety as
precariously insecure. And while they placed the love of man at the climax of human virtue, they summoned people to cultivate the love of God as the source from which all other virtues flow.
This is taught by Rabbi Reuben who had been asked to define the most reprehensible act a man may be guilty of. His answer was that it is the denial of God's existence. "For no man violates the commandments, 'Thou shalt not murder', 'Thou shalt not steal', till he has renounced his faith in God."12
The same doctrine is conveyed in the famous homily by Raba. As the Talmud relates it, "Raba said: when a person is brought for judgment on Judgment Day he is asked 'Did you do your business honestly, did you set aside time for the study of Torah, did you raise a family, did you maintain our faith in the Messianic redemption, did you pursue wisdom, did you attain to the level of being able to reason inferentially from one proposition to another?' All this will suffice provided he be a God-fearing man, too, for the fear of God is the treasury in which all else is stored. If he be not a God-fearing man, the other virtues will prove insufficient."13
The acquisition of a virtuous character and the attainment of life's perfection do not come easily to a man. He must work for them hard and persistently throughout the years, and his gains, such as they are, will always be partial and relative. But God has given man the tools with which he is to make his quest a profitable enterprise. Into his very nature God has poured certain drives which spur him on and guide him on his way. There is the impulse to look after one's self. This is sometimes called the evil impulse, because when carried beyond its legitimate limits the preoccupation with one's self becomes a destructive force in
human life. But in its essential character this impulse is no more evil than anything else which the Lord has made. Balancing this impulse, moreover, is the drive to goodness, the yezer tob, which spurs us on to acts of self-denial in furtherance of every noble endeavor. In present circumstances the so-called evil impulse dominates life, but as men mature in their development the good impulse gains ascendency and the proper balance is achieved between those two basic drives of our natures. The Talmudists pronounce their judgment on the two impulses in a comment on Genesis 1:31: "And God saw everything which He had made and behold it was very good." "Very good," say the rabbis, applies to those two impulses. "But," it is asked, "is the evil impulse very good?" And the answer is given that it is. For "were it not for that impulse, a man would not build a house, marry a wife, beget children or conduct business affairs."14
The person in whom the drive for self has been integrated in a sound pattern of character has made of the so-called evil impulse also a tool of goodness. The Talmud makes this clear in the comment on Deut. 6:5: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." "Thy heart" is taken as meaning "with the two impulses—the good and the evil."15
God moreover did not thrust man into the world to grope entirely on his own for the right course he must pursue in life. He has given man a chart by which he can steer himself. This chart is contained in the Torah and the commandments.
The Talmudists believed firmly that God revealed Himself to man, that having formed human life, He is also concerned with guiding it toward the knowledge of virtue and truth in which man finds his true happiness. Not every person is ready to receive the divine revelation. But there are
some who are ready, and to them God reveals Himself. Those chosen few are, however, chosen not for their own edification, but that they might become His prophets, the instruments for disseminating the fruits of that revelation among all mankind.
The most important manifestation of prophecy was in Israel, but not exclusively so. The rabbis saw the evidence of prophetic inspiration in the lives of men outside the Jewish people. Thus they declared: "Seven prophets prophesied for the pagans:16 Balaam and his father, and Job and his four friends." But prophecy, in its highest expression, appeared in Israel solely.
The most important permanent fruit of prophecy in Israel were the various books that make up the Holy Scriptures, commencing with the Pentateuch which is traced back to the authorship of Moses. In the words of the famous statement of the Talmud: "Who wrote the Scriptures? Moses wrote his own book and the parables of Balaam (Nu. 23, 24) and Job; Joshua wrote the book which bears his name and the last eight verses of the Pentateuch; Samuel wrote the book which bears his name and the Book of Judges and Ruth; David wrote the Book of Psalms … Jeremiah wrote the book which bears his name, the Book of Kings and Lamentations; Hezekiah and his colleagues wrote Isaiah, Proverbs, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes; the men of the Great Assembly wrote Ezekiel, the Twelve minor Prophets, Daniel and the Scroll of Esther. Ezra wrote the book that bears his name and the genealogies of the Book of Chronicles up to his own time …"
The degree of divine inspiration bestowed on individual prophets varied greatly. Moses was supreme among them, and the quality of his inspiration was surpassed by none. But even among the other prophets there were individual differences. Isaiah, for instance, was held superior to the others. Thus the Midrash suggests: "The Holy Spirit descends
on the prophets in degrees. Some prophesied to the extent of one book, others of two books. Beeri only prophesied two verses, which, being insufficient for an independent book, were included in Isaiah."17
The Divine plan could not, however, fulfill itself through the individual prophets. It was essential that the prophets be given a particular society which would be most responsive to their call and that would be prepared to dedicate its common life to the implementation of their ideals.
For that special duty God chose Israel. A Talmudic homily relates how God sought out the society that was best prepared to be the custodian of the Torah. "When the All-present revealed Himself to give the Torah to Israel, not to them alone did He manifest Himself, but to all the nations. He first went to the sons of Esau, and said to them, 'Will you accept the Torah?' They asked what was written in it and God told them: 'Thou shalt not murder.' They replied, 'Sovereign of the Universe! The very nature of our ancestors was bloodshed …' He then went to the sons of Ammon and Moab and said to them, 'Will you accept the Torah?' They asked what was written in it and He replied, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery!' They said to Him, 'Sovereign of the Universe! The very existence of this people is rooted in unchastity.' He went and found the children of Ishmael and said to them, Will you accept the Torah?' They asked what was written in it and He replied: 'Thou shalt not steal.' They said unto Him, 'Sovereign of the Universe! The very life of our ancestors depended upon robbery …' There was not a single nation to whom He did not go and offer the Torah …" The selection of Israel, in other words, was not arbitrary. God selected Israel "because all the peoples repudiated the Torah and refused to receive it; but Israel agreed and chose the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Torah." Israel was the chosen people in a double sense. Israel had chosen God even as God had chosen Israel.
Israel's function in history, then, was to serve as a witness to the truths of the Torah. For the Torah of which Israel was the custodian was ultimately intended for all mankind. It is for this reason that the original promulgation of the Torah took place in the desert, a no-man's land, rather than in the land of Israel. This was to suggest that its treasures were not meant to belong to any particular people exclusively; the Torah was God's message through Israel to all humanity.18
In projecting the goal of sharing the Torah with the rest of mankind, the rabbis did not call for the conversion of the rest of the world to Judaism. They distinguished between a universal element in their faith which all men must adopt and a more particular element which applied to the more specific facts of the Jewish group itself. This universal element of Judaism to which all men were summoned could be integrated with any culture and with whatever formal expression had developed in the religious life of a people. Its provisions are known as the "Seven Noahite laws" and they include the practices of equity in human relations, the prohibition of blaspheming God's name, the prohibition of idolatry, sexual unchastity, bloodshed, robbery, and cruelty to animals, such as tearing a limb from the animal when it is still alive.19
Proselytes were of course accepted in Judaism, when they proved their sincere desire to become part of Israel and to share in its destiny. But that, the rabbis made it clear, was not a prerequisite for earning divine approval. "A pagan," declared Rabbi Meir, "who studies the Torah and practices it is the equal of a high priest in Israel."20 Rabbi Meir clearly refers to a pagan who practices the universal principles of religion and morality as embodied in the so-called "Seven Noahite laws". If he practiced the Torah in its entirety he would no longer be a pagan.
The Talmud makes the study of Torah a cardinal virtue
in Judaism and summons all men to engage in it. "Whoever labors in the Torah for its own sake," declares the Mishnah, "merits many things; and not only so, but all creation is vindicated through him. He may be acclaimed as friend, beloved, a lover of the All-Present, a lover of mankind. It clothes him in meekness and reverence; it enables him to become just, pious, upright, and faithful; it keeps him far from sin, and brings him near to virtue. Through him the world enjoys counsel and sound knowledge, understanding and strength. … It also gives him sovereignty and dominion and discerning judgment. The secrets of the Torah are revealed to him. He is made like a never-failing fountain, and like a river that flows on with ever sustained vigor. He becomes modest, long-suffering, and forgiving of insults; and it magnifies and exalts him above all things."21
Life's highest goal which is attainable by man must be sought by living according to the teachings of the Torah. The study of Torah must therefore be the great preoccupation of mankind. "The ignorant man cannot be pious," as Hillel puts it, and ignorance here refers clearly to ignorance of Torah. In poverty, in wealth, in youth and old age, a person must ever give himself to the mastery of Torah. It is the only sure compass by which he can guide himself amid the turbulence and uncertainty of life about him.22
The rabbis saw the educational service of the Torah reinforced by the disciplines which are enjoined by it. Some of the commandments enjoined in the Torah are clearly ends in themselves. Thus the many prescriptions in civil and criminal law aim at creating a just order of human relations. Many of those commandments, however, were enjoined for pedagogic reasons—to teach certain truths through the more dramatic affirmation of action. They were meant to teach as reminders of vital truths, like the mezuzah, the receptacle attached to the door post of the house and the phylacteries worn on arm and head during prayer. Both
contain parchments on which is written the text of the most important injunction of Scripture—to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy soul and all thy might" (Deut. 6:5). By the continued exposure to these symbols man was to be reminded vividly of his relationship to God. As the rabbis put it: "Whoever has phylacteries on his head and arm, the fringe on his garment and the mezuzah on his door may be presumed to be safe from committing sin."23
The performance of the commandments was seen as serving man in a deeper sense. It gave him the opportunity to do something concrete in implementation of his love of God, thereby ennobling his own character. As one rabbinic comment expressed it: "The commandments were only given for the purpose of refining human beings; what, for example, does it matter to the Holy One, blessed be He, whether an animal's neck is cut in the front or the rear (as prescribed in the dietary laws)! But the ordinances He gave us have as their purpose the purification of human beings."24
The conquest of human lives for the truths of the Torah is a painfully slow process. Even Israel, who carries the special responsibility of being the servant of the Lord in the propagation of the Torah, frequently falls so far short of its ideal. And sin, the defiance of God's word, seems to be the all-pervasive failing among human beings. No doubt, God could have made men without the capacity to err. That. however, would have destroyed human freedom. Instead. God has made man a free agent, which involves the uncoerced exercise of the will in any direction, regardless of its moral consequences. As an oft-quoted Talmudic maxim: "All is in the hands of Heaven except the fear of Heaven."25 God, in other words, is master of the Universe, but He is not master over man's moral decisions, which he must learn to make himself.
But man is not left to his own initiative exclusively. God aids him in learning to exercise his freedom in ever wiser decisions. For whenever men defy the truths of the Torah and build patterns of personal and group life in violation of its teachings, God passes judgment upon them; and the discipline of suffering reinforces the native appeal of truth itself in leading man to repentance. It is in this spirit that the Midrash interprets verse in Psalm 23: "Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me"; rod is applied to suffering while staff is applied to the Torah. Suffering is therefore not an evil to be avoided but an opportunity that points to a better life. "Whoever rejoices in the sufferings that come upon him in this life brings salvation to the world."26
The Talmudists did not advise people to seek suffering. One of them put it quite bluntly: "I desire neither the suffering nor the rewards which it brings in its train." But when suffering comes, we are to see it as the prodding of God who is displeased with us for having committed sin, and who is bestowing upon us the favor of pushing us toward new religious and moral growth. In the words of the Talmud: "Should a man see suffering come upon him, let him scrutinize his actions; as it is said, 'Let us search and try our ways, and return unto the Lord' (Lament. 3:40). If he has scrutinized his actions without discovering the cause, let him attribute them to the neglect of Torah, as it is said, 'Happy is the man whom Thou chastenest, and teachest out of Thy Law' (Ps. 94:12). If he attributed them to neglect of Torah without finding any justification, it is certain that his chastenings are chastenings of love; as it is said, 'For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth'" (Prov. 3:12).27
The so-called suffering inflicted because of "love" is the highest kind of suffering. For it comes not to expiate for some wrong done but to disturb life's stagnation and to initiate a new spiritual advance. It is the irritant that stimulates spiritual progress.
It was no doubt because he viewed life from this perspective that one rabbi paid tribute to God for the very sufferings He had inflicted on Israel: "Because God loved Israel He multiplied sufferings for him." For through such sufferings Israel would achieve a new vitality in its spiritual life. "As the olive does not give of its precious oil except under pressure, so Israel does not bring forth its highest virtues except through adversity."28
In their trials no less than in their triumphs, therefore, God is guiding mankind toward their destiny. But its fulfillment is a long process toward which men climb slowly in their varied vicissitudes of history. When the theme of history reached its climax, the Talmudists were confident there would be ushered in a state of unusual human perfection. Then men will become completely reconciled with God and surrender unreservedly in loving obedience to His will. Oppression and hatred will then disappear and a new order of righteousness and love will be established in the world. It will involve the full realization of the hopes of the prophets and the fulfillment of Israel's mission in history. And it is to be brought about through a human instrument, the Messianic deliverer.
There is a wealth of varied details with which different rabbis surrounded the belief in the Messiah. But certain essential features stand out. The term Messiah means anointed, an allusion to the installation ceremony of kings and priests in their respective offices. But the Davidic dynasty carried so many fond associations among the Jewish people and recalled a glorious period in Jewish history, it was generally assumed that "The anointed" would be a scion of the house of David. His arrival will take place after a great suffering will have regenerated the hearts of men; they will have to suffer the pangs that are attendant
upon every new birth, pangs that are therefore designated the "travail of the Messiah". The human regeneration which is to usher in the Messianic fulfillment, moreover, will not be complete. There will be men who will hold on defiantly to the error of their life and endeavor to impede the dawn of the new day. And those men will have to be vanquished in a bloody contest of arms.29
As for the time when this consummation was to take place, it was generally held to depend on the degree of progress men will have achieved in their development. This is well illustrated in the well-known Talmudic parable. "Rabbi Joshua ben Levi met Elijah standing at the entrance of Rabbi Simeon ben Johai's tomb. … He then said to him, 'When will the Messiah come?' 'Go and ask him' was the reply. 'Where is he sitting?'—'At the entrance of the city.' … So he went to him and greeted him, saying, 'Peace be upon thee, Master and Teacher.' 'Peace be upon thee, O son of Levi,' he replied. 'When will thou come, Master?' asked he. 'Today' was his answer." When the Messiah failed to appear that day, a deeply disappointed Joshua returned to Elijah with the complaint: "He spoke falsely to me, stating that he would come today, but has not!" Elijah then enlightened him that the Messiah had really quoted Scripture (Ps. 95:7): "Today, if ye hearken to His voice."30