I was doing geography homework with my son. I sat there and looked at the assignment, which was to match countries with their capital cities. I reread the question five times and then the answers, which were multiple choice, thinking that maybe I misunderstood. Maybe I missed something? Maybe my Hebrew wasn’t good enough?

Nope. I had understood the question correctly: “What is the capital of the United States?” Of the answer choices, the only U.S. city was New York City. Hmm. I know that it’s been more than 20 years since I lived in America, but as far as I know, the capital hasn’t changed.


A published textbook that thousands of Maybe I missed something? Maybe my Hebrew wasn’t good enough? children learn from incorrectly teaches that the capital of the United States is New York City. The teacher didn’t notice it—or maybe he too was confused? Regardless, many children are being taught information that simply isn’t true. (Yes, I called the publishers and informed the school.)

On the one hand, it’s wonderful that we are an empowered, informed generation. You can look up any topic within seconds. You can learn about things that were once inaccessible to the masses, tapping into a wealth of resources.

But on the other hand, we don’t know if the majority of things we learn and read and see are even true. And that is terribly confusing—and potentially dangerous.

Who published that book, that article?

Who paid for that study?

Is there any objectivity?

They say that seeing is believing, but the way that information is changed and manipulated with a few clicks makes even seeing difficult to believe.

A few years ago, I studied trauma therapy. As part of the curriculum, I had to learn the history of the therapy. Interestingly, what was thought of as the best way to treat trauma hundreds of years ago is today considered barbaric and traumatizing. A medicine today might be a source of disease tomorrow, and what is thought of as a cause for illness today might be tomorrow’s cure.

But in the midst of all this confusion and obscurity there is a light—a light that is consistently illuminating brightly. What is that light? Torah.

I used to travel a lot in my youth, and to date, I have lived in five countries. I could walk into a synagogue on Shabbat morning in France, and it would be the exact same Torah portion that was read (yes, with different intonations and accents) as the one in Italy or Mexico City.

It is the exact same Torah that was passed down from generation to generation to generation. Despite expulsions, dispersions and migrations to faraway lands, it hasn’t changed.

Here we are in the middle of the dark, cold winter. A time when there’s more darkness than light, more night than day. During this same time of the year, many years ago, on the eighth of Tevet, the Greek ruler Ptolemy II forced 72 rabbis to translate the Torah into Greek.

Now, this wasn’t to bring more understanding or clarity to the world. The intention of the Greek ruler was to turn the Torah into a subject like any other subject—history, science, math, philosophy, etc. Subjects that change with time. For example, the earth was once thought to be flat; now we know it’s round. Bathing was once thought to be the source of illness; now we know that good hygiene and washing our hands prevents the spread of disease.

When this happened, the sages described that for three days, darkness came to the world.1 Part of the reason we fast on the 10th of Tevet is to remember the darkness that was brought into the world by the Greek attempt to turn Torah into a subject, like geography.

We are taught by the sages that there are “70 faces to the Torah,” meaning the Torah is so vast and wide that each person can find a “face,” a particular angle, and connect to it. We know that the Jewish people are varied and diverse with a range of skin tones, cultures and personalities, but the beauty of the Torah is that it is unchanging, an eternal truth.

All of our laws are codified from a traditionThere is one truth that has never changed and will never change of questions—inquiring, arguing, searching. In fact, that is what Abraham our forefather did when he asked, “Who created the world? Who is the Creator?” Yet all of this questioning does not contradict the fact that the Torah is the only unchanging truth; rather, the questioning is a means to get to the core of the truth.

So my homework session with my son actually gave me a golden opportunity to teach him that while so much of the information we are exposed to is simply not true, there is one truth that has never changed and will never change. It is applicable to every person, in every generation. And that truth is the Divine gift given to us: the Torah.

Torah, as King Solomon wrote, is light.2 It is the source of light. Torah comes from the word ohr, “light” and ora, “to teach, to illuminate, instruct.” Especially now, in our times of uncertainty, confusion and darkness, we can always turn to the Torah to illuminate us and give us steady, consistent light.