4. The Mishnah as a Focus of Torah Piety

Jacob Neusner, “From Cultic Piety to Torah Piety after 70,” in The Glory of God Is Intelligence: Four Lectures on the Role of Intellect in Judaism (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1978), 41–56.

The Mishnah as a Focus of Torah Piety

Now that we have considered the theological and historical aspects of the ideal of learning in Judaism, we come finally to the literary aspect. The conception of the centrality of Torah learning is joined, by the end of the second century, to the notion that, at Sinai, Moses received a dual Torah, one in writing, the other handed on through oral formulation and oral transmission. That other half of divine revelation is constituted by Mishnah, a corpus of laws redacted at ca. A.D. 200. Along with scriptures, Mishnah is one of the two principal documents of that form of Judaism which has been predominant and normative since the third century, that Rabbinic Judaism of which I spoke at such length in the third lecture. Rabbinic Judaism stands upon the claim that two Torahs, together revealed at Sinai, constitute the one whole Torah of Moses, “our rabbi.” Mishnah is transmitted, it is claimed, through processes of memorization and therefore is called “the Oral Torah,” while the Pentateuch is the written one. Accordingly, when we come to Mishnah, we approach one of the principal foci of Torah learning.

The question before us is this: What is the religious worldview expressed by the principal document of Rabbinic Judaism? How is piety expressed in a system in which Torah learning is at the center? The first thing we have to know is that, to the formative minds of Rabbinic Judaism, praying is not the chief expression of piety and not the highest mode of liturgy. There is work for God which is to be done—that is, liturgy—and it is not chiefly in praying but in learning that that work is carried out. The view of the third- and fourth-century rabbis is representative: Praying concerns temporal needs. Learning is life eternal. So, for example, when Raba saw Hamnuna praying too long, he criticized him: “You forsake eternal life and occupy yourself with worldly needs” (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 10a). Sheshet would turn aside and repeat Mishnah traditions between the segments of the scriptural lection, saying, “They with theirs, and we with ours.” (Ibid., Berakhot 8a.) When Isaac asked Nahman why he did not come to the synagogue in order to pray, Nahman replied, “I can’t do so.” “Why,” Isaac asked, “does R. Nahman not gather ten people to pray with a quorum at home?” “Because,” he said, “it is too much trouble.” (Ibid., 7b.) Accordingly, so far as the cited rabbis are concerned, the synagogue as a place of praying is not a principal locus of the holy life. Eternal life is sought elsewhere.

We know from Lecture One that to the rabbis of Rabbinic Judaism in its formative centuries, man seeks transcendence through Talmud Torah, learning in divine revelation as handed on by the rabbis. Worship as liturgy, that is, work for God, is carried on not principally through praying, which is for our selfish needs, but through study. True worship takes its own intellectual forms. This fact requires us to revise our definition of worship, which usually deems worship equivalent to praying. We therefore ask, What is the meaning of the transcendence attained through learning? We turn, in particular, to the analysis of the religious world view of Rabbinic Judaism as revealed in the first, and generative, document of that form of Judaism, which is Mishnah. We treat the question in four parts: the rabbinic understanding of transcendence, forms of worship, modes of community, and uses of tradition.

Transcendence is the quest for something beyond oneself, the effort to surpass one’s own being and to find what, in the supernatural world, it is that, in this world, we stand for: the effort to reach outward toward, and inward into, that image in which we are made. To the rabbis of the first seven centuries of the Common Era and to their continuators down to the contemporary expressions of Rabbinic Judaism, transcendence is to be attained in and through Torah. By Torah are meant a book, on the one side, and an activity— the act of learning—on the other. The “book” of course is the written scriptures, the Tanakh, and the unwritten revelation of God to Moses “our rabbi” at Mount Sinai. Thus Torah refers to “the whole Torah of Moses our rabbi,” a Torah in two parts, distinguished by the forms of the formulation and transmission. The one part is written down. The other part is memorized. The two together constitute Torah, and what is done with the two is to learn Torah, principally through memorization and critical inquiry into what is memorized (that is, the paramount mode of the second half of Torah). Accordingly, literary texts constitute the utensils of the transcendent, and learning in them defines the quest for, and experience of, transcendence. It follows that, to the ancient rabbis and their continuators, one seeks God through the worship effected in a particular kind of learning of a distinctive sort of literature. The common sense of worship—praying—is, as I have emphasized, secondary and unimportant, an essentially worldly and nontranscendent activity.

To the rabbis Torah remains open, an uncompleted canon, as late as the early third century, and beyond. Mishnah, after all, is called Torah by people who know personally authorities of the Mishnah, e.g., by Samuel and Rab, who can have known Rabbi himself. No wonder, then, that they could deem Torah learning to be the chief locus of the open way toward transcendence, for it is through the processes of qabhalah and massoret—handing down, traditioning—that they claim in behalf of Mishnah its status as part of Mosaic revelation: Torah learning is a mode of attaining revelation of Moses at Sinai, and transcendence by rabbis is defined as receiving divine revelation. Mishnah itself is called Mosaic and assigned to Sinai by people who stand within decades of the furious redactional and tradental work which brought Mishnah into being, an amazing fact. Accordingly, so far as the talmudic rabbis are concerned, Torah is, as I said, an unfilled basket, a canon still (and, I think, perpetually) open and uncompleted. If Judah, Meir, Simeon, Yose, and Simeon ben Gamaliel are the main authorities of Mishnah, moreover, it means that the third- and fourth-century rabbis cannot have supposed the processes of revelation had closed a thousand or more years earlier. Not for them the route of pseudepigraphy, assigning their great ideas to Adam or Enoch or the sons of Jacob. Nor do they even take the trouble to anachronize the language of the oral Torah and to put it into the forms and syntax of the biblical tongue, as do the masters of the Essene community at Qumran. They do not imitate the forms of the sacred literature of old nor hide themselves in the cloak of pseudepigraphic anonymity. For to them transcendence is as available now as it had been to Moses. And nothing said to Moses is not also said to them.

To the rabbis of talmudic times, therefore, the way to surpass themselves and to reach out to the godly way, the path to the imitation of Moses “our rabbi” and to the heavenly academy at which God studies Torah, lies in the very immediate present. It is now important to spell out the concrete modes of following or expressing the transcendental way characteristic of Torah learning. For we now know that these constitute not solely salvific, but revelatory forms. Through the way in which rabbis learn Torah they know God, or, to be more precise, that part of God which was to be known by man: God’s will and mind.

II

The modes under discussion pertain to method. First, how is Torah in the memorized form to be formulated and handed on? Second, how is Torah to be learned, that is, attained? The answer to the First question is that the part of Torah represented by Mishnah is so formulated as to be memorized. The answer to the second is that Torah is attained through the exegesis of Torah already attained. The open canon allows for the inclusion of new works of Torah into late medieval times, e.g., Zohar, Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, Joseph Karo’s Shulhan ‘Arukh. That is, the corpus of books holy to Rabbinic Judaism included not only the medieval compilations of midrash but also later works of law and mysticism. This, of course, poses a paradox, to which we shall have to return.

Let us dwell upon the matter of memorization. Mishnah is a work formulated in the processes of redaction. That is, the particular linguistic formulation of Mishnah takes place among the men who at the same time propose to put together the corpus of linguistic formulations into a well-composed and orderly document. They work with materials of the antecedent two or three centuries, but whatever forms were imposed on these materials in earlier times are wholly obliterated by men wholly in command of themselves and confident of their own superior judgment of how things should be put together and worded.

Mishnah is set out in highly stereotyped sentences, and the range of such sentences is very limited. We can list the paramount forms of Mishnaic language on the fingers of one hand. The patterned sentences, e.g., If X is so, then Y is the rule, and if X is not so, then Y is not the rule, will run on in groups of threes or fives. When the pattern shifts to some other, so too does the topic under discussion change. The patterns, moreover, are so worked out and put together that it is exceedingly easy to memorize Mishnah. Accordingly, just as the authorities of Mishnah do not take the trouble to put their ideas into the mouths of Adam, Enoch, or e.g., their own heroes, Moses and David, and just as they do not bother to copy the formulary patterns of scripture, so they take stunningly decisive action to wipe out the traces of the literary and aesthetic forms in which intellectual materials then nearly three centuries old had come down into their own hands. In this regard we are reminded of the work of aesthetic innovators in the great ages of architecture, who not only declined to imitate the buildings they saw around them, but tore down those buildings and made their own instead.

And, it is to be stressed, what the redactors and formulators of Mishnah do, they do only in Mishnah. The companion compilation, Tosefta, does not reveal any equivalent traits of formulation aimed at facilitating memorization. Nor in the later rabbinic documents do we find equivalent traits encompassing whole chapters and even larger units of redaction, though, to be sure, brief formularies seem to have been memorized throughout. It follows that Mishnah is something special and, I claim, unique. It alone is made into literature for memorization, and in its behalf alone is the claim laid down, “Moses received Torah at Sinai, and handed it on to Joshua, and Joshua to the sages, and sages to the prophets,” and so on down to the named authorities who stand within the pages of Mishnah itself, even such recent figures as Shammai and Hillel, for example.

III

Exactly how do the framers of Mishnah facilitate memorization? Let me state first what they do not do. They do not give us rhyme schemes. While the document probably was meant to be sung, it does not follow disciplined rhythms. The principal forms of the Mishnaic sentence consist of consistent arrangements of words in certain syntactical patterns, not in the repetition of the same words with some stunning variation at the start or end of a thought. Accordingly, what makes it easy to memorize Mishnah is the presence of recurrent syntactical patterns. These are embedded deep within the structure of language, rather than expressed superficially, e.g., in concrete repetition of particular words, rhythms, syllabic counts, or sounds. The Mishnaic mnemonic is defined by the inner logic of word patterns: grammar and syntax. Even though Mishnah is to be memorized and handed on orally and not in writing, it expresses a mode of thought attuned to highly abstract syntactical relationships, not concrete and material ones. Rabbis who memorize Mishnah are capable of amazingly abstract perceptions.

For their ears and minds perceive regularities of grammatical arrangements among diverse words. What is memorized is a recurrent notion expressed in diverse examples but, as I said, framed in a single, repeated rhetorical pattern. Truth lies beneath the surface of diverse rules. It is the unstated principle which unites the stated cases, embedded in the deep structure of language and thought alike. (See above, pp. 6ff.)

Mishnaic rhetoric creates a world of discourse distinct from the concrete realities of a given time, place, and society. The exceedingly limited repertoire of grammatical patterns in which all ideas on all matters are expressed gives symbolic expression to the notion that beneath the accidents of life are comprehensive, unchanging, and enduring relationships. These patterns lie deep in the inner structure of reality and impose structure and meaning upon the accidents of the world.

It therefore is through how things are said, as much as through what is said, that Mishnah proposes to express its transcendent message. What is remarkable is that Mishnah expects to be understood. It is not gibberish, composed of meaningless rhymes or repeated words, repetition of which brings salvation. Mishnah is made out of meaningful statements, the form of which is meant to convey deep meaning. The framers of Mishnah, as I said, expect to be understood by keen ears and active minds. They therefore convey what is fundamental at the level of grammar, autonomous of specific meanings of words and cases. Thereby they manifest confidence that the listener will put many things together and draw the important conclusions for himself. Mishnah assumes an active intellect capable of perceiving implications and of vivid participation. Mishnah demands memorizing the message, but also perceiving the unarticulated message contained within the medium of syntax and grammar. And the hearer is assumed to be capable of putting the two together into still further insight. The cogent syntactical pattern underlying statements about different things expresses a substantive cogency among those diverse and divergent cases.

Mishnah claims to make wise and true statements, which, moreover, apply at any time and in any place. It follows that Mishnah proposes to describe how things truly are. And the people who make Mishnah do so in order to put together, in a single document and in encapsulated form, an account of the inner structure of reality. This account is, specifically, of that aspect of reality which, in their judgment, can and should be put into formally patterned words. All of the diverse and changing phenomena of the world can be reduced to a few simple, descriptive equations. These, I repeat, are expressed in particular by deep traits of the interrelationships of words, persistent patterns of grammar and syntax.

There are then these two striking traits of mind reflected within Mishnah: first, the perception of order and balance, and, second, the view of the mind’s centrality in the construction of order and balance. The mind imposes wholeness upon discrete cases. Mind perceives meaning and pattern, because, to begin with, it is mind, the will, understanding, and intention of man, which imparts meaning to the world. To give one concrete example of that fact, I point out that, to the rabbis of the second century, it is human intention, not material reality or automatic working of mindless laws, which defines what is unclean or clean. In one area of the law of purities after another, the conclusion is reached that what man thinks is determinative of what can be made unclean and definitive of the processes of contamination. For instance, scripture states (Leviticus 11:34, 37) that if a dead creeping thing falls on food, and if the food is dry, it is unaffected, but if it is wet, it is made unclean. The late first- and second-century rabbis add, however, that food which is wet down accidentally is not affected by the source of uncleanness. It is still clean and insusceptible. Only when a man deliberately draws water and intentionally applies it to grain, for example, does the grain become susceptible to uncleanness. It follows that, if you have two stacks of grain, one on which rain has fallen, another which a man has watered, and if a dead creeping thing falls on both, only the latter is unclean. The two sorts of grain are identical, except for man’s intention. This is one among literally hundreds of examples of the same viewpoint. My sense is that all the oral Torah wishes to say as its perspective of transcendence may be summed up in one verse: “What is man, that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man, that thou thinkest of him? Yet thou has crowned him with glory and honor and made him little lower than the angels.”

IV

Mishnah comes into being in the aftermath of the Bar Kokhba War. That fact is heavy with meaning. For it is only after Bar Kokhba that ancient Israel knows beyond doubt the cult of the Temple in Jerusalem would not soon be restored. From 70 for three generations the hope was that, as 586 had been followed in three generations by Cyrus and the return to Zion, so 70 would be followed through divine intervention and the coming of a messiah. But with the end of the terrible war, it was forbidden for Jews to enter Jerusalem. Could anyone still have expected permission to rebuild the Temple and reestablish the cult? The second half of the second century, in which Mishnah takes over the teachings of scribes and Pharisees before 70 and rabbis afterward and makes of those teachings a principal component of the Torah of Moses, is the time of the reconsideration of the meaning of worship.

Clearly, worship through prayer was already ancient for the second-century Israelites. But worship through sacrifice also was an old and established mode of divine service. The loss of that second mode of worship cannot have been ignored. To state matters briefly: learning in Mishnah succeeds sacrifice in the cult as a mode of worship, and, I think, the succession is not temporal only, but bears deep ontological meaning. To explain this point, I cite the statement, in a lecture at Brown University, of William Scott Green, University of Rochester:

If the performance of rituals within the Temple exposes the lines of God’s revealed reality, then thinking . . . about these rituals outside the Temple, even without the possibility of performing all of them, has the same result. The Mishnaic rabbis express their primary cognitive statements, their judgments upon large matters, through . . . law, not through myth or theology, neither of which is articulated at all. Early Rabbinism took ritual beyond the realm of practice and transformed it into the object of speculation and the substance of thought. Study, learning, and exposition became . . . the basic Rabbinic activity. . . .

Restating this view in terms of Mishnaic grammatical rhetoric, we may say that the thinking about matters of detail within a particular pattern of cognitive constructions treats speculation and thought as themselves capable of informing and shaping being, not merely expressing its external traits: Language becomes ontology.

Language in Mishnah replaces cult. Formalism of one kind takes the place of formalism of another. The claim that infinitely careful and patterned doing of a particular sort of deeds is ex opere operato an expression of the sacred has its counterpart in the implicit character of Mishnah’s language. Its rhetoric is formed with infinite care, according to a finite pattern for speech, about doing deeds of a particular sort. Language now conforms to cult then.

The formal cult, once performed in perfect silence, now is given its counterpart in formal speech. Where once men said nothing, but through gesture and movement, in other circumstances quite secular, performed holy deed, so now they do nothing. But through equally patterned revision of secular words about secular things, they perform holy speech. In the cult it is the very context which makes an intrinsically neutral, therefore secular, act into a holy one. Doing the thing right, with precision and studied care, makes the doing holy. Slaughtering an animal, collecting its blood, butchering it, burning incense, and pouring wine—these by themselves are things which can be, and are, done in the home as much as in the cult. But in the cult they are characterized by formality and precision.

In Mishnah, by contrast, there is no spatial context to sanctify the secular act of saying things. The context left, once cult is gone, is solely the cultic mode of formalism, the ritualization of speech, that most neutral and commonplace action. Mishnah transforms speech into ritual and so creates the surrogate of ritual deed. That which was not present in cult, speech, is all that is present now that the silent cult is gone. And, it follows, it is by the formalization of speech, its limitation to a few patterns, and its perfection through the creation of patterns of relationships in particular, that the old nexus of heaven and earth, the cult, now is to be replicated in the new and complementary nexus: cultic speech about all things.

V

How does the Mishnaic mode of liturgy—worship through learning—affect the life of the community? It brings to the center the importance of memorizing and carrying into everyday life the teachings of Torah. That is to say, in a world such as Mishnah’s, in which writing is routine, memorization is special. What happens when we know something by heart which does not happen when we must read it or look for it in a scroll or a book is this: When we walk in the street and when we sit at home, when we sleep and when we awake, we carry with us, in our everyday perceptions, that memorized saying. The process of formulation through formalization and the coequal process of memorizing patterned cases to sustain the perception of the underlying principle, uniting the cases just as the pattern unites their language, extends the limits of language to the outer boundaries of experience, the accidents of everyday life itself.

To impose upon those sayings an underlying and single structure of grammar corresponding to the inner structure of reality is to transform the structure of language into a statement of ontology. Once our minds are trained to perceive principle among cases and patterns within grammatical relationships, we further discern, in the concrete events of daily life, both principle and underlying autonomous pattern. The form of Mishnah is meant to correspond to the formalization perceived within, not merely imposed upon, the conduct of concrete affairs. The matter obviously is not solely ethical, though the ethical component is self-evident. It also has to do with the natural world and the things which break its routine. In Mishnah all things are a matter of relationship, circumstance, fixed and recurrent interplay. If X, then Y, if not X, then not Y—that is the datum by which minds are shaped.

The way to shape and educate minds is to impart into the ear, thence into the mind, perpetual awareness that what happens recurs, and what recurs is pattern and order, and, through them, wholeness. How better than to fill the mind with formalized sentences, generative of meaning for themselves and of significance beyond themselves? In such sentences meaning rests upon the perception of relationship. Pattern is to be discovered in alertness, in the multiplicity of events and happenings, none of which states or articulates pattern: Mind, trained to memorize through what is implicit and beneath the surface, is to be accustomed and taught in such a way to discern pattern. Order is because order is discovered, first in language, then in life. As the cult, in all its precise and obsessive attention to fixed detail, effected the perception that from the orderly center flowed lines of meaning to the periphery, so the very language of Mishnah, in its precise and obsessive concentration on innate and fixed relationship, effects the perception of order deep within the disorderly world of language, nature, and man.

VI

In my view, we misrepresent the rabbinic mode of transcendence when we call it “traditional.” It is, I have argued, anything but tradition, in the commonplace sense of tradition as something handed on from of old which bears authority over us because it has been handed on from of old. The foundation of Mishnah’s world view is the claim that revelation happens in Mishnah, which is the work of men of the recent past. Revelation continues to happen through learning in Mishnah.

It is the contemporaneity of Mishnah—a contemporaneity effected through the detachment of its cases from specific time and place and even particular linguistic context—which is its principal claim upon transcendence, that is, Mishnah’s contemporaneity, not its status as “tradition.” And the later history of Mishnah, its capacity to generate two large Talmuds as commentaries, its unfathomed implications stirring later generations to produce their commentaries to Mishnah and especially to its commentaries, their responses to specific questions of Torah-law, and their efforts to codify the law—these testify to the permanent contemporaneity of Mishnah down to the present day.

Accordingly, we must ask, Why is it that Mishnah, while Torah, prevents its own encapsulation and fossilization as tradition? In my view, the reason to begin with is to be found in the intentions of Mishnah’s own framers, who do not present their ideas as ancient tradition but in their own names as living Torah, and who therefore keep open the path of continuing receptivity to transcendent truth through continuing use of mind. I think they do it deliberately, just as they intentionally reject the names of old authorities, the linguistic patterns of old documents, and the forms of worship established for more than a thousand years. In this context I cite the fine insight of S. C. Humphreys (“Transcendence and Intellectual Roles: The Ancient Greek Case,” Daedalus 104, 1975, pp. 91–117; citation: pp. 112–113), who says:

One of the factors influencing the intellectual to adopt a transcendental perspective appears to be the need to make his work comprehensible to an audience widely extended in space and continuing indefinitely into posterity. How far is our own appreciative response to these works—and especially to the rationalism of the Greek philosophers—due to the authors’ deliberate intention of transcending limitations of social structure and temporal horizons? How far is this successful transcendence due to content and how far to form, to the structuring of the communication in such a way that it contains within itself enough information to make it immediately comprehensible? Is this a common quality of rational discourse and of “classic” works of art?

What I believe Miss Humphreys wishes to emphasize is that, when we respond to a document such as Mishnah and enter into its world, we do so because the people who make it as it is so framed it that we should do so.

Our response to the aesthetics of Mishnah—our recognition of how it is that matters are stated to facilitate memorization and, thereby, shape processes of cognition—is a tribute to the work of Rabbi and his colleagues. By stating Mishnah in terms essentially neutral to their own society (though, to be sure, drawing upon the data of their context), Rabbi sees to it that his part of the Torah will pass easily to other places and other ages. Through patterned language, Mishnah transcends the limitations of its own society and time. And, I have argued, a great part of this extraordinary creative achievement is in form, in the “structuring of the communication in such a way that it contains within itself enough information to make it immediately comprehensible.”

And yet, there is a second side to matters. What makes Mishnah useful not only is its comprehensibility, but also its incomprehensibility. It is a deeply ambiguous document, full of problems of interpretation. Easy as it is to memorize, it is exceptionally difficult to understand. Mishnah not merely permits exegesis, it demands it. We can memorize a pericope of Mishnah in ten minutes. But it takes a lifetime to draw forth and understand the meaning. Mishnah contains within itself and, as I stress, even in its language, a powerful statement of the structure of reality. But that statement is so subtle that for eighteen hundred years, disciples of Mishnah, the Talmuds, and the consequent literature of exegesis, have worked on spelling out the meaning (not solely the concrete application) of that statement.

It is no accident at all that the most influential works of Jewish intellectual creativity, such as the Zohar and Maimonides’ legal code, and that of Joseph Karo, link themselves specifically to Mishnah. Zohar claims for itself the same authorities as those of Mishnah, as if to say, “This is the other part of their Torah.” And Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, as everyone knows, is in the model of, but an improvement upon, Mishnah itself. Nor should we forget that still a third religious genius of Judaism, Joseph Karo, heard the Mishnah speak to him and wrote down that the Mishnah had to say. These are diverse testimonies to the ineluctable demand, imposed by Mishnah itself for further exegesis. The one pseudepigraphic, the second an imitation of the language and form, and the third a curious personification of the document, all look backward, not forward.

For each is a way earlier taken in response to the written Torah. The Zohar takes the model—as to its authority—of the pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. Maimonides, like the sages of the Essene community at Qumran, takes the model of the inherited linguistic choices of the holy book. Joseph Karo, of course, in his hearing the personification of Mishnah talking, will have been at home among those who talk of Torah or wisdom personified.

Among the greatest accomplishments of the history of Judaism, before or after its time, Mishnah stands all by itself in throwing aside all inherited models, even the logical potentialities of form and content explored before its own day and, as I just said, afterward as well. That, I think, is by far the most compelling evidence that Mishnah, for its part, is exactly what it claims to be: the work of revelation, fresh and surprising. It is Torah revealed to Moses at Sinai, therefore Torah not like the other half of Torah—because it does not have to be.

VII

Mishnah therefore is a fundamentally ahistorical document, because it does not appeal to the authority of the past. It does not represent itself as an exegesis of the ancient scripture. It generates a fundamentally ahistorical religion, that kind of Judaism predominant from its time to ours. Mishnah lays down timeless judgments and sets forth truths not subject to the judgment of history. Its preference for finding abstraction and order in concrete, perennial problems of daily life substitutes the criterion of reason and criticism for that of history and functionality. What counts is perennial reason. The object of reason is, first, the criticism of the given by the standard of fundamental principles of order, and second, the demonstration of the presence, within ordinary things, of transcendent considerations. The ultimate issue of Mishnah is how to discover the order of the well-ordered existence and well-correlated relationships. The prevalent attitude is perfect seriousness about man’s intentions, therefore also about man’s actions. The implicit goal of Mishnah is sanctification of the world through the use of the mind of men and women in the service of God. I therefore conclude where I began: The theory of Torah piety expressed in the formative centuries of the Judaism which we know as normative is best stated very simply, “The glory of God is intelligence,” to which, Judaism will add, “intelligence in perceiving revelation in creation, Torah in order and form, and the love and mercy of God even in our capacity to know.”