Swords vs Words


Moshe Ben-Chaim



Contrast the two major religions with Judaism, and you are struck with this gruesome reality. On the one hand, Jihads and Crusades unveil their coercion of religion – the sword’s ultimatum; while Judaism is presented with words…reasonable arguments for a good life, and no ultimatums. In fact, Abraham and the other prophets displayed the exact opposite: they sacrificed their ‘own’ lives to help others live and acknowledge the Creator and His will for mankind. Never did any Jewish prophet or leader resort to anything but reason to present the Jewish theology. Even while imprisoned, Abraham debated with his fellow man, directing their minds towards the path of reason…the only path available for determining reality and truth.


Any truth, be it religion, math, science, et al…is of no value if one who verbalizes the fundamentals of that truth; remains blind to its validating rationale. Quotations from famed thinkers attract accolades and applause. But life’s meaning is not measured by how many claps one may induce, from others who are equally blind. Life is for the purpose of “knowing”. Life is for realizing what is true, what is real. And with no conviction, one possesses no commitment or value, regardless of his words.


A religion that coerces others to follow it, is a religion whose principles cannot defend itself. It is a religion of cowards and insecure adherents who find a momentary ease from their self-doubt, when one more feeble-minded soul agrees, instead of suffering death. Some validation that is! But this method of religious bribe, of forced ultimatums, reveals just how bereft of validation these religions truly are. Validation of a religion cannot come by the sword’s threat. Validation of anything must be derived from reasonable argumentation. Yes, Muslims and Christians greatly outnumber Jews. But with what type of numbers: numbers who cannot defend their faith with any semblance of reason? Shall these numbers impress us? Both religions cannibalize Judaism, and with such transparency, one is amazed that their adherents can fool themselves. It is from this suppressed truth that anti-Semitism springs forth: “Kill the Jew, for his arguments will prove us wrong.”


Many frightened Jews and liberals will seek to squelch such open critique. But this was not the way of Abraham, Ramban, Maimonides, and any other Jewish mind that knew the truth. They did not seek the applause from the masses, or cower from their scorn. These great minds lived for God and His truth. Their reality was not the billions of hands clapping, fame, fortune or legacy. Their reality was truth. They understood life is temporal, so they placed no stock in prolonging a life that denied truth. The Torah’s law to die in place of committing idolatry, adultery or murder teaches this.


“Swords vs Words”: What does that tell you about the major religions of the world? It teaches that their sense of reality is based on how many others agree. How foolish and contradictory this is. For in their quest to validate their religion, they brag of how many others accept blind faith, as proof. Listen to that: masses with blind faith are their proof. This means that those masses that have no proof but accept their religion, are their validation. Thus, they claim validity based on absent-minded individuals. Sadly, this disease has penetrated Jewish leaders. Just last week a major Jewish newspaper quoted an orthodox rabbi who said, “religion is not subject to proof or demonstration, but it is based on faith.” In other words, God’s orchestration of Revelation at Sinai, His miraculous plagues in Egypt, and His other feats…are of no value. Man should simply “believe” a religion, and ignore facts. God performed futility, according to this rabbi. I wonder why this rabbi prays at all during these High Holidays, where every other word attests to God’s acts as Creator, and our insignificance. It is the very existence of the universe that reveals the Creator: a purely scientific claim, repeated throughout these Ten Days of Repentance.


Judaism is based on scientific truths, not faith. God gave us a universe as a laboratory for uncovering His wisdom. God demands reason, and gave us the faculty of intelligence, to be used, not traded for easy faith. God “works with reason”, and thus, His revealed religion operates in accordance with intelligent rules. Since He desires we know Him, which means we must know the Being who is reasonable, the path to Him can only be “reason”. 


I will close with one thought for those of you who feel faith is superior to reason: Can a person have faith in a XXXX? That’s right, no typo…I’ll repeat myself to remove your doubt: Can you have faith in a XXXX?


By now you are scratching your head, because you have no idea what a “XXXX” is. This means, that you cannot have faith in a thing, which you do not apprehend. Just as you cannot apprehend what I mean by XXXX, you cannot have faith in XXXX. So, faith clearly requires some apprehension of that thing, in which we are faithful.


This is my proof that knowledge surpasses faith: since we now have proof that faith cannot exist without apprehension, or rather, some knowledge, we realize that knowledge must exist, before we have faith. Knowledge is essential within faith itself. Thus, faith is impossible, without knowledge. This teaches us that the human mind demands apprehension to make any move. And the greater the apprehension, the more we know about reality.


Now what is better: faith in something, or 100% knowledge? Of course, it is the latter. For with 100% knowledge, we are convinced and can gauge our actions based on what we know is true. Just as a builder can construct a house only once he knows math, so too, man can only formulate true ideas about God, once he starts with 100% knowledge about His laws and actions. But if we have no proof for our assumptions, then all we do is based on ideas that may be completely wrong.


God records Moses’ words which recall Revelation at Sinai, “Lest you forget what your eyes saw” (Deut. 4:9), “You have been shown to know that God is God” (Deut. 4:35), and “And you shall know it today” (Deut. 4:39). Moses teaches that God orchestrated Revelation at Sinai, a “demonstration”, precisely so mankind might witness God’s existence, and so future generations receive this proof of the Creator. Faith is insufficient, and proof is what Moses used as his argument to the Jews to live by Torah.


We live but once. Care for your life by living in accord with proven truths, not faithful guesses.