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Nephi'S Torah Rescue Tale
I learned recently from a good friend, an observant Jew, son of the local Temple President in New York State, who converted as a teen, did a mission in South America, and has raised his children (a very Tevyaesque 4 daughters) LDS and remains active LDS, about a phenomenon in Jewish history and folklore that bears on Book of Mormon study in my view.
He asked me one day if the Brass Plates were the Torah. I was a bit surprised that he wasn't sure, but I reminded him of what he already knew: the Torah (the 5 books of Moses in our Old Testament) was part of the material contained in the Brass Plates kept by Laban, along with some of the Prophets and other Writings contained in the modern Tanakh (our Old Testament). When I asked him why he asked, he related a series of "Torah Rescue" and "Hidden/Recovered" Torah stories, a lot coming out of Poland and vicinity during and after WWII. The typical story has an heroic Jew hiding up a valuable Torah scroll to keep it from desecration, or recovering the Torah from some bad hat who was keeping it from the Righteous. A recent story out of Poland is typical of this kind of tale: http://bieganski-the-blog.blogspot.com/2012/02/heroic-rabbi-beaten-imprisoned-in.html
Nephi and his brothers' adventure getting the Brass Plates, including the Torah inscribed therein, fit right into this cultural, folkloric, and literary tradition: The heroic Son of Israel is tasked with recovering the valuable Torah (valuable not only for the medium it is recorded on, but especially for what it contains -- the means of continuing as a people) from a mustache-twirling bad guy . . . they face danger, intrigue and despair, and through divine intervention and no small amount of derring-do, they rescue the Torah, thus saving the people.
I've not seen this aspect of the Nephi/Laban adventure treated as fitting into this genre. Anybody know anybody who's written on the subject?