Kuzari: Reason vs Faith
Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: Would you please explain to me the Kuzari's position on faith which he talks about at the end of section 2:26 and 5:1? He seems to imply that one who keeps the Torah based on faith is on a higher level than one who "resorts" to rational reasons behind the mitzvot. How can this position be reconciled with his emphasis on the proof of Torah from Sinai? Thank you for your time.
Mesora: Kuzari, chapter 5:1 does not seem to indicate what you suggest, but 2:26 does, but only on the surface. When completing his views in his discourse on the Temple's service and maintenance by the Levites, the Rabbi writes: "I do not by any means, assert that the service was instituted in the order expounded by me, since it entailed something more secret and higher, and was based on divine law. He who accepts this completely without scrutiny or argument, is better off than he who investigates and analyzes. He, however, who steps down from the highest grade to scrutiny, does well to turn his face to the latent wisdom, instead of leading it to evil opinions and doubts which lead to corruption."
The Rabbi, Judah Halevi, is not defending faith over analysis. That is nonsensical, and cannot be followed, even if the Rabbi said it, which he would not. We don't follow "people" regardless of their reputation. We follow reason. And by definition, reason demands explanation which is the result of analysis. Faith has no place in man's search for knowledge.
The Rabbi clearly states that when one is involved in the "secrets" of the law, he is better off to accept them, rather than plunge into an area where his abilities fall short. By "secrets", he refers to areas where man's abilities are weakest, an can lead to erroneous notions. For this reason, he states one should turn to areas where he can detect "latent" wisdom, areas where eventually, accurate ideas can become evident. In opposition to latent wisdom are those areas beyond man's reach. "Four entered the garden,.....and Rabbi Akiva exited in peace." (Talmud Chagiga, 14b) The other three did not. This case refers to the involvement in areas above one's capabilities.
The Rabbi's message here is that one must take care not to enter areas beyond his comprehension. In no way is he suggesting that faith is a better choice than analysis and reason. His entire work displays analysis and reason. You must certainly agree the part cannot represent the whole. If you still understand this part to mean that faith outweighs reason, then you do best to convince yourself of the Rabbi's intent by realizing that the rest of his work implored one to engage reason, so he cannot contradict himself. That would not be reasonable!


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