God's Existence: Belief
Unfortunately there exists a poor outlook,
which is damaging the souls of many Jews. I refer to the Christian ethic of "blind faith".
Or as Jews have adopted and refer to as "emuna pshuta".
Yes, Judaism believes in emuna - faith -
but that is limited to the fact that God keeps His word. But emuna is
not what is requested of us to determine God's very existence. His Existence
must be arrived at by proof. This is what the Torah commands in so many
places, and precisely why we are creatures endowed with an intellect.
Too many unlearned educators are destroying
the potential of fine, Jewish souls through their ignorant teachings. Perhaps
their approach secures them to have an "out", as one might feel if
he searches and finds a proof for God's existence, then he must keep
all His commands with no justification for his occasional defiance. Perhaps
that heavenly yoke, that type of vice grip on his actions is intolerable.
There are many emotions which contribute to
the proliferation of this blind faith acceptance, but Judaism contains no
support. The community leaders who promulgate this disease do so based on
other uninformed leaders, not Torah texts. Based on the sources quoted here, and their reasoning, one
realizes that "blind faith" is contrary to Judaism and God's goal
in designing man with an intellect. Are we to say that in the most
essential area of man's life - knowledge of God - man is to abandon his
highest element of intelligence and simply believe? In business and other
matters, man uses his mind as far as he can to secure his great wealth. But
in knowledge of the Almighty, he wrongly assumes he fulfills his purpose with
faith. How far from the truth and from the accepted opinions of all our great
teachers this is.
It is much easier to shelter one's
ignorance behind a claim that belief is superior to knowledge. This obviates
the need to exert oneself and break his teeth on a Tosafos. But knowledge
comes only to those who yearn for it and toil in study, "in accordance
with the pain is the reward", "in accordance with the knowledge is
the love of God". It is inexcusable that educators have not read the words
of Moshe Rabbeinu, Rav Hai Gaon, Ramban, Maimonides, Ibn Ezra, Chovas
Halevavos, Kuzari, the Vilna Gaon, Saadia Gaon, and even King Solomon's own
words. "Wisdom laughs at the fall of the simpletons, scorners and
Some claim that proof is of no need, and
that proof is only needed for the physical world, but not the
"unlimited" world of knowledge and God. In other worldly matters,
these same individuals engage reason, but not in their religion. Their
actions contradict them. "Do they not see there is fallacy in their
Man cannot escape the function of reason,
nor a world which functions by reason. Even the metaphysical world was
created by the infinitely wise God. It too abides by systems of knowledge, as
opposed to the wrongly professed assumptions where everyone conjures up his
own view of how God manages the world. They have no concern for rational
explanation. The self-aggrandizement achieved by discussing "lofty"
subjects, and the emotional attraction to so-called "mystical"
topics has deterred many unsuspecting Jews from the Talmudic study essential
for clear thinking.
This type of "emuna pshuta" is
contrary to mans' design, it is the opposite of God's goal for man, and is
against how the universe functions. It destroys the critical thinking of man
responsible for all the great achievements of these great men listed here.
Thiss faulty approach also deters the uninitiated from experiencing the true
beauty of learning, with all of its consistent philosophy, halachik formulae,
and perfectly structured verses.
Preaching fantastic, emotionally
stimulating notions, many of today’s leaders present Judaism as a mystical,
unintelligible collection of miraculous rabbi stories. Their inconsistency
with the methodology seen in the writings of the men noted at right is
apparent, and should awaken any intelligent person to the reality that they
are not teaching Torah, as these men have taught.
Instead of opening myself to be accused of
misinterpretations, I will let these Torah giants' words be a testament of
their understanding and convictions of the Torah, they are quoted at right.
None of these or any other of the Baalei
Hamesora, the masters of Torah tradition, says that we are to simply have
faith. This is Christianity. Don't be swayed by the large numbers of Jews who
hold onto faith, for numbers is no argument for truth. We are taught to be
convinced by reason, as these rabbis stressed.
If you feel you must follow your peers and
not these rabbis, then you must work on your independence of thought, and you
must study these areas of knowledge of God slowly and carefully, confirming
to yourself with 100% conviction in each idea as you progress.
Knowledge is unshakeable, belief sways.
Strive to comprehend what your mind tells
you as truth. This is why we have been created by God with an intellect, to
engage its use in the most essential of areas, knowledge of God.
Click here to read an article on the proof of God derived from
the Sinaic revelation which was organized by God to function as proof of His
here to read a reader's
response to this article.
Quotes from the
Avos and Rishonim
(Taken from Maimonides'
Mishneh Torah, section on Idolatry, Chap.1:3)
"Once the mighty ancient (Avraham) was weaned, he began to ponder in
his mind, and he was still a child, and he began to consider day and night,
and he was amazed that there could be this sphere operating regularly
without a guide, one who causes it to rotate, as it is impossible that it
should rotate itself. And he (Avraham) had no teacher nor informant,
rather, he was entrenched in Ur Casdim amongst the foolish idolaters, and
his father and mother and all the people worshiped the stars, and he
(Avraham) worshiped with them, but his heart stirred and he understood until
he reached the truth and understood the line of truth from his own
proper understanding. And he knew there was One God Who
guided the sphere and created everything and that there was no other god to
be found besides Him. And he knew the entire world was
mistaken and the matter which caused them to make this error was that they
served the stars and (physical) formations until they lost the truth from
their minds. And at 40 years of age, Avraham recognized his Creator. Once
he recognized and knew, he began responding on the
inhabitants of Ur Casdim and calling them to court saying this is not the
way of truth which you follow, and he broke the idols, and he began to
inform the people that it is not fitting to worship (anyone) except for the
God of the world, and it is fitting that one sacrifice and pour libations
to Him so other generations will recognize Him. And it is fitting to
destroy and break all the (idolatrous) formations so the whole people won't
be led astray, like these who think there is no God, only these (idols).
Once (Avraham) succeeded over them with proofs the king
sought to kill him, and there was done for him a miracle and he went to
Charan. And he began to stand and call in a great voice and made known to
the whole world there is One God to the whole world and unto Him one should
Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses)
(Deut. 4:9): "Guard
yourselves and guard your souls exceedingly, lest you forget the
things your eyes saw...",
(Deut. 4:34)"all the signs and wonders which God has performed for you
in Egypt as your eyes have seen".
(Deut. 4:35) "You have been demonstrated to know that
God is Elokim, there is no other besides Him".
(Deut. 4:36) "From the heavens He made heard His voice to prove
you, and on land He showed you His great fire and His words you heard from
amidst the fire".
Was Moses lying to the people? Would the
Jews have proliferated Moses' words had they not been convinced themselves?
One need not be told what he has seen with his own eyes. The Jews knew they
witnessed proof of God's existence. They therefore passed it on to their
children as it was undeniable proof. If one today says we have no proof of
God, that person denies not only Moses, but also God, as God instructed
Moses to teach these words as part of the Torah.
(Commencing remarks from his
work "Emunas v'Daos")
"Blessed be God, the God of Israel, Who is alone deserving of being
regarded as the Evident Truth, Who verifies with certainty unto rational
beings, the existence of their souls, by means of which they access
accurately what they perceive with their senses and apprehend correctly the
objects of their knowledge. Uncertainties are thereby removed from
them and proofs become clear. May He be lauded then above the
highest commendation and praise".
(His commentary on the last three words of Haftoras Bamidbar - Hosea 2:22)
"You should know God, that He revealed His signs and wonders and the
dwelling of His shechina among you, until you would know God with clear
knowledge as something perceived by the senses, (in order that) you should
no longer require belief. Because belief is something which has no clear
knowledge, (it is) simply acceptance, but they have to them knowledge to
know God, which is greater than belief".
(Deut. 4:9) "For if the words of the Torah had come to us only through
the mouth of Moses, even though his prophecy was verified with signs and
wonders, yet 'if there were to arise in the midst of us a prophet or a
dreamer of dreams' and he were to command us to do the opposite of what
the Torah commanded us, 'and he [were to] give us a sign or wonder' then
a doubt would enter the people's hearts. But since the Torah reaches
us from the mouth of the Almighty to our ears, and our eyes behold
that there is no intermediary, we will reject anyone who differs and who
casts doubt [upon the words of the Torah] and will declare him to be
Ramban is certain of the event at Sinai,
but only due to the fact that the story of Sinai must be provable.
Otherwise, a false prophet will have an equal argument that we follow him,
as he has signs too. But since we have proof, "....reaches us from
the mouth of the Almighty to our ears" we do not follow him.
Bachaya ben Josef ibn Paquda
(Author of "Duties of the
Heart", or "Chovas Halevavos")
Excerpts from his
introduction: "Whoever has the intellectual capacity to verify what he
receives from tradition, and yet is prevented from doing so by his own
laziness, or because he takes lightly G-d's commandments and Torah, he will
be punished for this and held accountable for negligence."
"If, however, you
possess intelligence and insight, and through these faculties you are
capable of verifying the fundamentals of the religion and the foundations
of the commandments which you have received from the sages in the name of
the prophets, then it is your duty to use these faculties until you
understand the subject, so that you are certain of it - both by tradition
and by force of reason. If you disregard and neglect this duty, you
fall short in the fulfillment of what you owe your Creator."
Devarim 17:8-10 states: "If
a case should prove too difficult for you in judgment, between blood and
blood, between plea and plea, between (leprous) mark and mark, or other
matters of dispute in your courts, ....you must act in accordance with what
they tell you."
Regarding this passage,
Rabbi Bachya states: "the verse does not say,.....simply accept them
on the authority of Torah sages,...and rely exclusively on their tradition.
Rather, (Scripture) says that you should reflect on your own mind, and use
your intellect in these matters. First learn them from tradition - which
covers all the commandments in the Torah, their principles and details - and
then examine them with your own mind, understanding, and judgment, until
the truth become clear to you, and falsehood rejected, as it
is written: "Understand today and reflect on it in your heart, Hashem
is the G-d in the heavens above, and on the Earth below, there is no
other". (Ibid, 4:39)
Additionally in his
entire Gate of Unity, R. Bachaya uses numerous proofs demonstrating the
existence of a Creator and His Unity. The rabbi does not engage in mere
belief. One proof I will list here:
"Chap. 1: What is
the definition of the wholehearted acknowledgement of God's Unity? The
accord of heart and tongue in acknowledging the unity of the Creator, after
arriving at verification - through argument - of His existence and absolute
oneness, by way of analysis."
Rav Hai Gaon (Academy head at Pumbedisa in Babylon)
Recorded in Ramban's "Letter to the French Rabbis", 18 stanzas
from the end: "However, those who devote themselves to the Torah and
the fear of heaven are free from such [detrimental effects] for they
undoubtedly lead the masses to a good future, and they have no
dilemma about [their belief in] the Holy One, blessed be He".
His first principle of the 13 Principles: "To know the
existence of the Creator".
His first statements in the Mishneh Torah: "The foundation of all
foundations and the pillar of wisdom is to know that there is a First
Cause. And He is the cause for all existences. And all that is
found from the heavens and earth and what is between them do not exist
except for the reality of His existence."
Rabbi Judah HaLevi (The Kuzari)
Paragraph 67: "Heaven forbid that there should be anything in
the Bible to contradict that which is manifest or proved!"
The entire sefer the Kuzari unfolds as and endless series of proofs
presented by Judah HaLevi. He uses proofs to demonstrate to
the King that God exists and how He functions with man.