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Although the Torah is traditionally conceived of as a ‘given’, conveyed by God to Moses in all its fullness, Jews are expected to enquire into its meaning and, in the process, receive new insights that have been left opaque—intentionally so, many Jewish theologians have held. The Maharal of Prague (Tiferet Yisrael, ch. 2) goes so far as to say that just as God created an unfinished world for human beings to bring to perfection, He created an incomplete Torah to be brought to completion through diligent application on the part of its students over the ages. The problem for the modernist Jew is that if he is a follower of the Torah, there are whole areas in which the quest must be in response to the challenges presented by modern thought. The modernist quest, in these areas, is a quest for the Torah itself (see FUNDAMENTALISM). Nevertheless, it is not too difficult for the modernist to base his particular quest on the idea stressed by the Maharal and others. The quest for the Torah is itself part of what is meant by Torah, so that it is not so much a question of seeking in order to find as one of finding in the very quest.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.

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