The Kuzari Proof, part III

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A recent email from Yeshivat Har Etzion of a shiur by Rav Chaim Navon included the following quotes from R’ JB Soloveitchik’s essay “Uvikashtem MiSham“. Notice the poetic treatment of the idea that knowledge through proof is indirect, yet one’s belief in and relationship with the Creator should be first-hand.

While the philosophy of the Middle Ages and also that of the early modern period expressed the search for infinity and eternality in an objective manner, through the formulation of definitive proofs, which were thought to be logically valid, the modern view presumes to deny the logical-objective worth of these proofs…

This view came to uproot, but ended up planting; it came to deny, but ended up believing. It denied man’s ability to draw indirect conclusions through proofs… But instead of eradicating all these proofs from its book, it accepted and reaffirmed them as non-mediated experiences that are not based on logic, but rather are expressed through sudden revelation and illumination. (Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Uvikashtem Misham, pp. 127-128)

The experience of God in man’s confrontation with the world expresses itself not through proof based on an act of abstraction, but through a feeling of sudden revelation of an unmediated fact in the consciousness of reality. (Ibid., p. 131)

In this shiur, Rav Navon associates the approach of emunah through proof with the Rambam, as we already discussed in parts I and II of this discussion. Emunah through direct experience, the position I believe is Rav Yehudah haLevi’s, is shown to be shared by the Raavad. Which is why the Rambam depicts Avraham avinu as being an accomplished philosopher of 40 when he finds G-d, whereas the Raavad says he was three. (Hil’ Avodah Zara 1:3; both positions were previously taken in medrashim.) See the shiur for more…

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