If we cannot rely on numbers (40 v. 39) as written accurately in the torah, nor in anecdotes (reuven sleeping with bilhah), then what are we to believe as being literally true in the torah???
1.>The shivim zekeinim saw "the God of Israel' and "that tachat raglav"....does that mean that god of Israel has actual legs???
2.>>Mimachras hashabas...in counting the omer.....we holdd that we begin counting after the holiday of pesacdh, and not after shabbas (as it is written in the torah)...
3.>>40 lashes are to be given (written many times in the torah) ..........why then do we only give 39 (and isnt' that a violation of lo tigra???)
4.>>Gemmarra Shabbas 55b, one shita holds that despite what the Torah explicitly says, Reuven did not sleep with Bilhah.
5.>>We believe that the "thou shalt not steal" in the 10 commandments, actually refers to kidnapping, and not to literal stealing.
6.>>>>Etc, Etc, Etc, ....what are we then to believe in the literal word(s) of Hash-m as writen in the Torah????? and then even less so (kal v'chomer) about the words of our sages???
harvey benton, usa
I have answered some of these questions in a previous question. It is clear from many of your questions that you do not have a grounding in "Torah shebe'Al Peh" -- "The Oral Torah." It is called "The Oral Torah" because much more than what was written in the Torah has been passed down from generation to generation. Someone who has a firm grounding in understanding Gemara will see that the Gemara and its commentaries answer all of these questions. It answers why laws that are derived from the Written Torah do not seem to match the simplistic definition of the actual words in the Torah. In a nutshell, there are many tools with which we are supposed to learn the Torah, such as the thirteen attributes of Rebbi Yishmael found before Pesukei d'Zimrah, which the scholars of the Talmud used to figure out what the Torah really meant. Without the Oral Torah, one cannot understand the Written Torah.
My advice to you is to truly get a good grounding in learning Gemara and its classic commentaries by learning Gemara with a learned Rabbi. I'm sure in no time, with your thirst to learn, these questions and many more you might have, will be answered.
All the best,