Is the Bible Relevant Today?

The surprising survey numbers are in.

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Comments (31)

(21) willy, June 8, 2012 4:45 AM

I am 59 years old and I have read the bible since I was 10. to me reading the bible is like saying hello to an old friend. whether the bible has all the answers I can't say. I haven't figured out all the questions yet. but the ones I have it has had the answer. on an serious note if you want G=D to answer your question you need to study it so you can receive your answers how can G-D answer your questions if you don't know what he teaches

(20) Anonymous, May 22, 2012 4:35 AM

all can make time if it's a priority but when one see those who do learn bible it's not so encouraging or like they have the answers

while the sages say all is in the bible when i observe those who do make bible study a serious priority it doesn't seem to me that most of them have the answers on how to deal with lives problems.not giving up either

(19) emuna, May 11, 2012 7:25 PM

It's not so accessible for everyone

I didn't know hebrew, didn't have a very extensive Jewish education, thought torah observance meant keeping kosher and shabbat as the rabbis say we should, that's it. then i started reading more, and my thoughts changed, because now i know how important torah study is and how much i was missing in my knowledge of true, torah judaism. i used to think i knew it all, and that there wasn't much to know. boy, was i wrong. my suggestion to people to start torah study in an easy way, a few minutes a day: purchase a Chumash (5 books of Moses) that comes with both a good english translation and a good, english commentary, for example, artscroll's Stone edition Chumash, and read a few minutes a day, maybe from the portion of the week. you'll find a lot of riches there. or maybe read Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers)--which is part of the Talmud--from a good version like the Pirkei Avos Treasury: The Sages Guide to Living with an Anthologized Commentary & Anecdotes, which is one i highly recommend. Or start with reading books with Jewish content that have Torah ideas within it, for example, Strive for the Truth, Doesn't Anyone Blush Anymore, or Mirrors of our lives: Reflections of women in Tanach. These are all great, easy reads, thought provoking, and full of Jewish wisdom. You might want to read from the primary source (The Torah) when you read other books with Jewish thought.

(18) Max Weinstein, May 9, 2012 11:21 AM

It's not that relevant to me

To be perfectly honest with myself and others, it isn't that relevant to me, without being politically correct. From seeing how my community is, I would say that the only people who have time to study Torah are the ones who grew up religious and with that belief and the wealthy, religious Jews. Coming from a secular home, the culture has made me who I am, not the Torah. I don't know if it's right or wrong, but that's the case. As far as I'm concerned, Torah is something you have to have time for, and being brought up in a middle class home, I can't afford the luxury of studying Torah, nor was I brought up believing that Torah is functional in my life. To be even more frank, I see that there's a financial aspect to studying Torah as well. I've seen a good amount of Rabbis from all organizations and their parents just happen to be wealthy. Well they are lucky since mommy and daddy can afford to pay for them to study at Yeshivas around the world. I want to study and learn more, but not more than I need to work so I can provide for myself and my family because I don't have anyone to live off of. I may sound bitter, but I can urge you that many Jews feel this way and that religious groups such as Chabad and Aish try to skirt the issue of finances way too much. I know of several Rabbis who wouldn't be anywhere in life if it wasn't for his fathers being rich and being able to buy their homes and finance their families, both for Rabbis in my community and in Jerusalem. If I have to give up Torah so I can live day to day, then I am more than willing to do that since I have to survive and G-d hasn't blessed me with wealth. If you have the finances to keep being Jewish (and please don't give me the spiritual point that being Jewish is only about faith and regardless of finances), then go for it and take advantage of your good fortunes. If you don't, then you don't and no one has the right to judge you unless they have walked in your shoes and faced your circumstances.

patrick, May 10, 2012 5:35 PM

well said

i can identify....

JD, May 11, 2012 1:47 PM

everything counts

Hashem is happy (so to speak) even if you set aside 5 minutes a day for Torah. Twice as happy if you learn 10 minutes. Thanks to Aish and many other websites pretty much anyone can do it!

ORBIT, May 11, 2012 3:11 PM

It's not that relevant to me

You sound as an educated person able to express very subtle feelings and opinions. It means that you must have received a good education and that precludes that you must have read and absorbed at least few hundreds book. You are not alone who IN YOUR BUSY LIFE has not found time TO READ this relatively small volume of the few millennia old BESTSELLER, the Jewish Bible, even if it is still the most published book every year – since it was written and presented to Jewish people first and then to the rest of humankind. So far it was translated into almost ALL languages. There is really no excuse for any person on this planet not to have access to it, since it became part of the Christian Bible as well and six out of seven Prophets of Islam came from the Jewish Bible as well (considering that there are very few non-Jews in the New Testament as well -both authors and personalities). An excuse not to have TIME to read this important BOOK of few hundred pages is at least ridiculous. The “politically correct” moral and ethical principles that have changed the world (some of them I have describes in my previous remarks) that are “sold” under many different names and ideologies (sometimes even hostile to Judaism and the Jews) could be found in FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES that make only 5 of 39 books of the Jewish Bible. It takes less than one night to read them. In spite of it so few both secular Jews and non-Jews ever read it; sadly, I know many religious Jews who never appreciated the political maturity and immense actual modern values that Biblical principles brought or can bring to an individual or the entire society. However, they have to be read with an open mind and understood as presented in their own times (regardless of different cosmology and level of scientific knowledge) as universal wisdom that passing time has not changed a bit.

Daniela, May 13, 2012 6:44 AM

please don't yell

I'm sorry, but why on earth are you yelling at this person?? To tell anyone they have "no excuse" not to do anything is rude and inconsiderate. On top of this, please know that in internet terms, all caps is YELLING. It does not mean EMPHASIS. In this person's experience, the scholars he has seen have their material needs taken care of. What might be of comfort to him, however, is that any article that is read on this site that quotes from the Torah, any single page read from a copy of a Hebrew bible with proper translation and commentary in five or ten minute's time, even if read at the dinner table, is Bible Study. This alone should comfort this person and anyone else who feels like Torah study is too grandiose a task to undertake.

Max Weinstein, May 14, 2012 8:39 PM

Thank you, Daniela

I appreciate the support, Daniela. It takes a lot to stand up for someone, but I know ORBIT isn't coming from a bad place, they just might not have experienced the Jewish community from the perspective of others.

LVSteveo1, May 13, 2012 11:05 PM

Learning/Studying the Bible (Chumash)

Today, with a computer, one doesn't even have to own a Bible - many o/l sources with commentary, notes & other links if one just wants to read, study & further explore biblical material - virtually unlimited. . .

(17) ORBIT, May 9, 2012 1:19 AM

T'nach (39 biblical books) are the most valuable wisdom

So far, no book even written has surpassed the Jewish Bible as a recipe for healthy, long, creative and successful life for both an individual as well as entire society. Jewish Bible is mainly an instruction book for introducing morals, ethics and just society into our physical = biological existence that is both violent and emotional, property we share with animals and with very primitive peoples as well. Torah is showing the unique and very successful attempt to liberate humankind from both ancient and not so ancient worlds, where common practice has been to worshiping GOD’S creations instead of the CREATOR. Bible is forbidding having gods in human form, regardless of his or her contribution to human needs or wellbeing. The Jewish Bible shows on an example of history of Jewish people how HUMAN SACRIFIZES stopped in times of Abraham (~four millennia ago), how Jews outlawed SLAVERY in times of Moses (some 3300 years ago) and how the liberated Hebrew slaves who settled in the Holy Land (present Israel) legislated EQUALITY OF ALL PEOPLE, enforced by Jewish rulers, Prophets and Judges for almost a millennia and a half in their own country and countries they were exiled to. Before Jews entered history, slaves and manual workers used to be exploited until their total exhaustion. Introduction of SHABBAT REST was one of the greatest revolutions that allowed the Jews intellectual pursuits, education, literacy and communications across any distances in space or across many generations. LEVITES (one of 12 tribes) who were teachers and healers enforced both the religious practices based on WRITTEN laws as all the population was LITERATE (thus the name: “Nation of priests”). TEN COMMANDMENTS from the time of Moses in the Jewish Bible became a moral code for the entire civilized world. Very few, even the civilized people are aware that they own the Jews their personal FREEDOM and DEMOCRATIC systems they live in.

(16) Shmuel, May 8, 2012 10:30 PM

The Bible's message is in the eye of the reader

The bible must be interpreted and meanings drawn from its stories and commandments. For me the bible yields one salient message; we are our brother's keeper. The G-D of our bible appears capricious and unfathomable. G-D is not your good buddy or loyal friend who is always protective and performs miracles when petitioned. I truly want to believe that G-D exists and placed us on earth for HIS/HER purpose. That purpose is for humankind to revere G-D's wonders and to enjoy the bounties the earth provides and to be kind and generous to all those who are less fortunate.

(15) Rachel, May 8, 2012 9:56 PM

The world was created thru the Torah

I learn parsha Hashavua each week. Of course, I BELIEVE the answers to all of life's problems can be found within. I don't think I'm capable to find those answers quite so easily...even if I learned chumash many hours each day. I know in my heart that the world was created THROUGH the Torah. That really says it all.

(14) Anonymous, May 8, 2012 6:11 PM

The bible is wonderful commentary on today

I read the bible everyday. It steers my thinking and informs me how the Almighty thinks and feels, what He values. It's clear He loves His chosen people and is returning them home to eretz Israel. An Israeli taxi driver proudly showed me his treasured book he studies daily - but it wasnt the bible is was the Talmus and other commentaries. How can man's opinions be more important than the Almighty's words? Our Yeshiva's let us down

(13) Antonio Perez, May 8, 2012 4:26 PM

Is the Bible relevant today?

I read the Bible everyday. It is food to my soul and G-d's revelation to His creation. Bravo to Sarah in Israel. I pray all of us would read His Word and live by it as it applies today. I'm cerain Israel would be blessed and her enemies defeated. When you see G-d's hand at work you realize how powerful He is and that nothing is impossible for Him. Maybe a message to encourage Bible reading and study should be on billboards throughout Israel. I know that getting into His Word not only enriches one's life but it blesses one too, in soul and body. If we turn to Him, He will turn to us. It's not difficult. Thank you very much Rabbi Yaakov.

(12) yoram raanan, May 8, 2012 3:29 PM

knowing names of 5 books

while i am familiar with the hebrew names, knowing the greek names of the five books is duanting and almost totally greek to me... and apparently a great percentage of the people surveyed. this does not preclude people's familiarity with stories, ethics and meaning.

(11) Cindy Skillman, May 8, 2012 2:54 PM

Yes, I read it

While I don't always read the bible every day, I meditate on scripture and on portions I've memorized. And I often DO read the bible every day. I agree with an earlier comment that it's difficult to get the gist of many passages, particularly in the Tanakh, and particularly for my culture. Commentary and sites like this one are very helpful. Thanks!

(10) ruth housman, May 8, 2012 2:29 PM

Biblical study

I think many do not read the Bible, and the reasons I get, and one I embraced myself, is that a large proportion of these Biblical stories are filled with violence, and it seems really not consonant with the idea of a God of love. I was repelled by these stories, and they are troubling. And sure, we can look within, at the messages within the story, and endlessly discuss meaning, as in keep on probling the inner depths of what is puzzling and even, abhorrent to us. But some don't. And they have their profound reasons, and that should be, respected, if this has to do with stories like the binding of Isaac, and the slaughter as explicated by Anita Diamant's popular novel, The Red Tent. For me, the most beautiful of stories has got to be The Book of Ruth, and not because my name is Ruth, but because it's a story that is pure, about friendship and love, and I think it's rather interesting and deep that this story, contains the lineage of the Messiah. Since there is an inherent unity, as expressed by the depths of our Shema, it can be, that all that we do is expressive of this one truth, this Abrahamic truth, and that God has provided many spiritual outlets, everywhere. And so it might not be necessary to read the Bible, or discuss its contents, but rather fulfill the dictum of putting the kind into mankind, to revere and reverence each other, and this very diversity I am referencing at this moment. Awe the MOM itself in moment. I am following a language-based story, and I experience massive synchronicity, so maybe, my words, might bear, some weight, and I am, in the very least, weighing in on this discussion. The path is Empathy, and it is within empathy itself, the word.

(9) Peter, May 8, 2012 2:27 PM

Yes I read the Bible

It hasn't always been so. But today it is because I find the Bible to have the answers to life's disapointments. I believe the Bible is G-d's inspired Words to us today as it was in the day when it was written. Too often we read about what the Bible says by others and we don't take the effort to read it for ourselves. Torah has the answer's to many questions being discussed in society today. If one believes the Bible is The Words of G-d in written form why would you not read it instead of taking someone else's opinion as your opinion. There is much in the Psalms and the Prophets that deal with today's events. Many of my friends are now reading Joel who seems to be referring to sometime soon. May you too be blessed in your reading!

(8) Alejandro, May 8, 2012 1:34 PM

The bible

I read the bible everyweek -- mostly thanks to aish.com

(7) JD, May 7, 2012 11:50 PM

The Bible

In this context "the Bible" probably refers to a questionable English translation, with no oral Torah to explain. How much value SHOULD be placed on it?

yoram raanan, May 8, 2012 3:32 PM

exactly!

perhaps if aryeh kaplan's translation was available, more people would be interested. let's face it, king james, gideon's and whoever else "they" are trying to be inspired by is mostly unreadable.

(6) Matt Kanter, May 7, 2012 8:21 PM

Priorities

I don't have time to read the Bible because of all the time that I spend learning Talmud ! I am serious . And besides, isn't that the way all of the Yeshivas work ? From what I've seen, "Bible study " is not emphasized in the higher ( orthodox ) Jewish learning institutions.

(5) Lisa, May 6, 2012 11:14 PM

The Bible alone is like peanut butter without chocolate!!

I think the Chumash isnt enough...it must be read with commentary to really get the answers......

(4) Carolyn, May 6, 2012 7:15 PM

Desiring Righteousness

I am of the Christian faith. I too, am saddened at the idea that those that claim to read the Bible don't seem to know very much about what it contains or about the Author who inspired it to be written. I am not surprised by the survey. Throughout the Bible there are things written about G-d's mighty working through/with a few individuals. We are weak but Hashem is strong. Blessed is His name! I received His mercy when He fanned the flame of that eternal spirit which was deadened by a life of disobedience. I was given a desire, a burning desire to know this G-d and why He would create such a creature as me. I had to make a decision to simplify my life and put "getting to know G-d" at the top of my list of things "to do". With His help I was able to do it and I have never been more at peace in my soul. If you feel that G-d is knocking at the door of your soul, don't be afraid to open the door! May G-d bless your viewers.

(3) ana, May 6, 2012 4:05 PM

bible study?

probably because there's long work days, houses to clean, laundry to do, movies to watch, tv, to see, bills to pay,children to take care of, parents to take care of, community involvement, things to do. it's hard to make time for something people aren't totally sure of, or aren't sure that there is time for, or aren't sure the time for it is necessary for day to day living. it's also hard to make time for something that they think they already pretty much understand the gist of (be good to others, there is a g-d, give charity etc.), therefore making in depth study unnecessary.

Lisa, May 6, 2012 11:35 PM

Well Ana, you found time to tune into Aish.com!!!

It doesnt take a long time to read the weekly portion of the Torah every week.....just click on the parsha section of Aish...you will learn more than "be good to others!!" (the laundry can wait!!)

Marsha, May 7, 2012 1:51 AM

I would love to learn Bible/chumash with you once a week to show you that it is much more than being good to others, proof of G-d, etc. It is because of Chumash that I am religious. It has always been my favorite subject during my school years and still my favorite to learn because there is so much depth to it.

(2) Sarah Rivka, May 6, 2012 3:54 PM

Bible is relevent to every action I take in my life

I live in Israel, a land full of miracles every day. I start my day with the Torah and end it with Torah. I use it to make decisions every day in my life. It has inpacted my life and made it a more meaningful, and happly one. It has opened my eyes to help those around me too.

(1) SusanE, May 6, 2012 2:43 PM

I looked for the Good to be Relevant

My Mother told me many times that any questions I had, any problems I couldn't solve would be answered in the Bible. Searching through the Bible to find something relevant to answer some questions for the past 30 years, I finally found the relevance in the 21st Century. While there a few a few good men and a few good women in the bible......the ones talked about are mostly pretty bad characters. Bad people to the end that G-d wanted to end them all. Powerful men who are murderers, liars, cheaters, thieves, warmongers, adulterers, there are deceptful women, idol worshipping is rampant, and the list goes on and on. The Bible is full of these tales, and as hard as I try to justify the reasons for telling stories like these, I can't. Today these stories are so relevant among the rich and powerful. We still have them all, so what lessons have we learned? What questions have been answered. The relevance to me is that they didn't get it right then and we're not getting it right now.

scott, May 12, 2012 1:43 PM

Soloman

"Nothing new under the sun". Free will is a gift that can be used for good or bad

 

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