Shabbat Talmud Study: The Urim V’Tumim and the Fantasy of Easy Answers to Hard Questions


Pick the most divisive, polarizing issue of our time. The issue that you won’t discuss around the dinner table with family or friends because it will not end well.

Now imagine that there were some device that could ascertain God’s will about the answer to this vexing question. Our Torah tomorrow offers us just such a thing, the Urim v’Tumim, translated by our Etz Hayim chumash as “the instrument of decision…for determining the will of God in specific matters that were beyond human ability to decide.”

Imagine if we had the Urim v’Tumim today. What is the right answer on: abortion, immigration, border security, criminal justice reform, health care, or any other issue that occasions constant disagreement. As a society we have been disagreeing about these issues from generation to generation. Is there such a thing as the right answer to these questions? Is there such a thing as God’s answer to these questions? Is it even possible for there to be the answer that resolves the question once and for all?

How did this instrument of decision work out for ancient Israel? Did it work? Did they use it? Did it really resolve their hardest questions? What do we learn about the hardest questions from the Urim v’Tumim?

Finally, google “Yale insignia.” Guess what you will see. Why that?

See you tomorrow at 8:30.

Shabbat shalom,
Wes