Original article location: http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2004/12/kuzari-proof-part-i.shtml
You make four errors: 1) you are remiss in your citation of the events transmitted by the Sinaic Jews, 2) you also err in your equation between a mass (Jews) convinced of witnessed "events", and Thebans who accept "beliefs", 3) you assume that alterations in succeeding transmission might explain our current Sinai account, and 4) you prefer emotion over intellect. (Shabbos/Halachik experiences)
Hitler too succeeded at causing Germans to ‘believe’ they were a superior race. Christians ‘believe’ in Jesus’ purported miracles. People can “believe” things, even en masse, and even over generations. But such belief acts as no proof, of which the human mind is quite capable of obtaining.
No historical account witnessed by masses was successfully transmitted, unless it truly occurred. This is Kuzari's argument, and the proof of God and Judaism's Divine origin. This is the proof used to validate all historical events. This is why we accept Caesar as having existed; even if no artifacts had been found. Judaism’s proof of Sinaic history and miracles functions no different than history’s myriads of other events.
A people will not transmit Moses’ words "Lest your eyes forget" (Deut. 4:9), had they not witnessed the event. Had they not witnessed Sinai, surely there would be in our hands today, the “true” story of those Jews. A fabrication would not completely obscure what actually did take place. Masses do not share a common motive to lie. Lying is based on motive, and masses remove any possibility of a “common” motive.
This phenomenon found in Deuteronomy, where masses attest to Divine Revelation, will never be found in any other religious of cultural doctrine. No group will transmit to others that they truly witnessed that which they did not. But when we do find such accounts, this is an incontrovertible argument of its validity. This is certainly so when such an account as Sinai is identical the world over. Add to this, the absence of any other historical account of that people at that era. The story would not have been transmitted if the Jews were not convinced of what they saw. This is the Kuzari’s proof – not belief.
Regarding alterations in Sinai’s true account, why is it that there is but one account today? Where are all those alterations you allude to? Did they just conveniently disappear? Surely, as you assume, we should possess variations of that account…but there are none.
Further, Judaism is based on proof, not feel good, experiences of Shabbos, or the like. Emotions must be separated from intelligent proof. The two are as oil and water. Emotions have not the capacity to “prove” anything. The fact that proof exists as a real human ability must be preferred when deciding our most fundamental and primary of concerns (such as truth, matters of God, our souls) over simple acceptance, regardless of the “spiritual” pleasure. For this reason, we are commanded not to follow the False Prophet deviating from Torah, even if he produces miracles. Why should we not follow his miracles over God’s? It is due to the incomparable level of provable evidence available through Sinai. Proof surpasses visual tricks. Moses was justified in teaching the Jews not to follow a False Prophet, as Moses too recognized that something of proof outweighs all other considerations. According to you, an emotional or mind qualia surpassing Judaism would justify following the False Prophet, and Moses is wrong.
Man was gifted his metaphysical soul and intelligence so as to engage them, not decry them. Had God desired that we neglect the ability for proving matters, he would not have orchestrated Sinai, nor given us a soul capable of proof.
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim