Tuesday, February 13, 2018


June 21, 2018:

My title Reason to Believe has excited some reaction that perhaps looking for reason is unnecessary or even dangerous. Is it not more appropriate to rely on emuna peshuta? Surely that is the foundation of the commitment of klal Yisroel to HKBH, and looking for reason sometimes leads to questions which undermine emuna.
So I decided to record some sources from the tradition that explicitly endorse the need for adding reason to emuna peshuta. At the end I will add a comment on the status of emuna peshuta itself.
רמב"ם יסודי התורה א א:

א יְסוֹד הַיְסוֹדוֹת וְעַמּוּד הַחָכְמוֹת לֵידַע שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם מָצוּי רִאשׁוֹן. וְהוּא מַמְצִיא כָּל נִמְצָא. וְכָל הַנִּמְצָאִים מִשָּׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ וּמַה שֶּׁבֵּינֵיהֶם לֹא נִמְצְאוּ אֶלָּא מֵאֲמִתַּת הִמָּצְאוֹ:
[[The foundation of foundations and pillar of all wisdoms is to know there exists a first Being Who gives existence to everything that exists,,,,To know requires reason; it is not merely believing. True, the standard translation of the
         להאמין                  Says                ספר המצות   
, but both Rabsbi Heller and Kapach say that is a mistranslation.
And even if it is accurate, the quote above is later.]]    
דרך ה א א

מציאות ה׳: כל איש מישראל צריך שיאמין וידע שיש שם מצוי ראשון קדמון ונצחי והוא שהמציא וממציא כל מה שנמצא במציאות והוא האלוק ב״ה:
[[Every Jew must believe and know that there is a first Being……..Ramchal leaves no room for doubt – knowledge must be added to belief.]]
ברכות י"ז. מהרש"א

בכל לבבך כו'. הכוונה בזה כמ"ש הפלוסופים האלהיים דחייב כל אדם להשכיל בידיעת מציאותו ואחדותו ויכלתו וידיעת דרכיו כו' ית' ב"ה כפי יד שכלו של אדם אך ע"פ אמונתנו והתורה וכל מה שנראה לו בשכלו שהוא נגד תורתנו הקדושה לא יאמין בו ויתלה הדבר בקט שכלו וז"ש ר"מ גמור בכל לבבך כו' לדעת דרכי ה' אשר ממנו תמצא מופת למציאותו ואחדותו ויכלתו שהוא ודאי דבר גדול כי גם זה האיש משה רבינו בקש על זה הודיעני נא את דרכך אך אמר שתשקוד על דלתי תורתי שלא תזוז ממנה ודבר שיעלה על לבך והוא נגד תורת משה הוא דרך אפיקורסות ולא תשגיח בו כלל וזה הלשון שנינו הוי שקוד ללמוד תורה ודע מה שתשיב לאפיקורוס דהיינו על דבר שהוא נגד התורה ולפי שכל עסקי האדם הם במחשבה ובמעשה ובדבור אמר נצור תורתי בלבך שהיא במחשבה ונגד עיניך תהא יראתי במעשה שמור פיך כו' הוא בדבור ומסיים וטהר וקדש כו' הוא דבר נוסף כמ"ש שיקדש אדם עצמו גם במותר לו ואז ואני וכו' וק"ל:
[[Summary: Every person is obligated to have intellectual understanding of G-d’s existence, unity, power and ways….[he must know His ways] because from that knowledge he can find proof for His existences, unity and power, and that is definitely a great thing……..]]

עשרה מאמרות

המאמר הראשון הוא מאמר ה' אחד
שורש הדברים הוא שורש השרשים (דברים ד, לט) וידעת היום והשבות אל לבבך כי ה' הוא האלהים, רצה לומר ידיעה בלב בהשגה מופתיית נוסף על הקבלה מצד אבותיו, כאשר האריך בעל חובת הלבבות בשער היחוד, וזהו מרומז במה שכתוב (דה"א כח, ט) דע את אלהי אביך, רצה לומר נוסף על מה שהוקבע אמונת האלהות בלבך מצד אביך דהיינו הקבלה איש מפי איש, דע אתה בעצמך מצד ההשגה. וזהו רמז הפסוק (שמות טו, ב) זה אלי ואנוהו אלהי אבי וארוממנהו, ורצה לומר כשזה אלי שהוא אלי מצד השגתי וידיעתי, אז ואנוהו מלשון אני והו, רצה לומר אני והו דבוקים ביחד כביכול, כי הידיעה נתפסת בלב. אמנם כשאין לי הידיעה מצד ההשגה רק מצד הקבלה שהוא אלהי אבי, אז וארוממנהו, כי הוא רם ונשגב ממנו ואני מרוחק מאתו במצפון הלב. על כן חל החיוב להיות בקי במופתים של חובת הלבבות, ויהיו מומנים בלב היטב היטב, וכל שער היחוד יהיה בלב וזכרון מיוחד לידע ולהבין כי ה' אחד ושמו אחד:

[[Summary: one must in addition to the tradition he has received from his ancestors and teachers achieve his own intellectual understanding of the fundamental of emuna. And he quotes the חובות הלבבות as the authority for this.]]

So we have Rambam, Ramchal, Meharsha, Shelah, and Chovos Halevovos [at least!] in favor of finding reason.

I think casting emuna peshuta as opposed to reason is not accurate. The reliability of the mesora is itself a reason. This is similar to the approach of the Kuzari. What these sources are saying that the reason of the mesora is not enough reason.

It should be noted in this context that our sources describe emuna peshuta in terms of rejection of abstract philosophy [Moreh Nevuchim] and reliance on the mesora [Kuzari].
. Here are the sources I found [in the Aspakalaria]:

Sefer Hachinuch, introduction: emuna via witnesses, historical record, 3 million witnesses to orignal event, including all hearing Hashem speak.
Kinas Sofrim, beginning: "yesod hayesodos" means emuna via kabala amitis.
Shela Hakadosh, asara mamaros, beginning of maamar 1, chakira or tradition from the avos.
Keser shem tov. 
Meiri, Mishle 30:6 - first fix your emuna via kabala hanevuis and then do chakira.
Akeda, Gen 12:1 - temimus = emuna received via das or navi. [Chakira can at most establish existence, not power and hashgacha and knowledge. So the Torah did not emphasize them. the miracles done by M"R are not chakira but rather sensible events that suffice to prove to all.]
                Ex 17:1 (perek 2) - [We must believe in creation, but not necessarily in creation ex nihilo, so the Torah begins with bereishis, but not with yesh me-ayin!!]
Alshich, Deut 4:44 - the source of emuna was the experience of the exodus with all its miracles. Not via chakira since that always remains open to doubt.  [[then tradition communicates the events, with the implications for emuna to later generations.]]
Or Hachaim, Ex 10:1 - a reason for the makos is that they are ikarei haemuna b'lev Yisroel.
Malbim, Ex 20, 2 - Hashem planted in man, from birth, the knowledge that there is a Creator and that  He is one - he who looks into his soul;s with the eyes of his wisdom will find these known principles.
Emunos v"deos, hakdama, perek 6 - Jews do chakira in order to verify what we know from the prophets and to answer critics. Even though all can be proved, until we achive the proof, and for those who will not succeed, we have the truth from the prophets. 
Kuzari, 1: 15-27 - foundation of emuna is the event of Sinai and the tradition through the generations. The philosophers have no tradition, so they had to speculate/investigate on their own....
                1:6-15 - we could accept hyuli [[as without beginning - so it seems from context!!!]], or worlds beforethis one, and we would beleive that this world began at a fixed time, and the first humans were Adam and Noach. [[!!]] 
Ramchal, Derech Hashem, I:1 - all the foundations were revealed to the avos and to all of klal Yisroel at Sinai and trasnmitted through the generations, and can also be demonstrated....
Hcochma u'Musar, siman 46 - responsibility to use hisbonenus hasechel to base emuna.
                129 - one who uses his sechel to analyze emuna will find proofs in experience of the truth of his emuna. 
                207 - argument from design.
                Part 2, siman 2 - two types of emuna - elokei avoseinu, who accepts the tradition from the avos, and elokeinu, who belives because of his chakira. Strength of former - more stable, able to whistand attack. Strength of latter - not merely habitual.
                96 - Three types of belivers [in general] - pesi yaamin l'kol davar - a great deficiency. He who believes only what his sechel accepts - also a deficiency, due to the weakness of human sechel. And the middle way: to use sechel to produce prrofs of emuna, and to believe the tradition that is based upon public experiences/miracles [mefursamos], like the exodus etc and Jewish survival. 
Michtav me'Eliyahu, [Arugment from design, a heart oriented to truth will find emuna naturally, negius prevents seing the truth....]
                III:176 - the only secure foundation for emuna is depth in study of Torah. Before that, when one bases his emuna on the tradition from tha avos and trusting chachomim, if he elects to make his sechel the sole judge of the truth of the emuna, that shows that he is looking for a way out, since the sechel is a judge who is easy to bribe or has already been bribed.... But we do ahve a ersponsibility to try to finde intellecutal basis for emuna, just not to reject emuna when it appears to contradict sechel. 

June 24, 2018

In chapters II and VI the criterion for belief and knowledge is high enough probability. The question is raised how this relates to the thirteen principles of Jewish belief. Can “I believe with a perfect faith…” be satisfied with high probability?
In Living Up to the Truth I answered as follows:
“If all we have is greater probability than alternatives, does this justify absolute belief? What of the principles of Jewish belief which state: “I believe with a perfect faith that...”? Here we are suffering from a mistranslation: ma’amin and emuna in Hebrew do not mean faith but rather faithfulness - living faithfully to an idea or principle.   Proof texts: Genesis 15:6; Exodus 19:9; Numbers 14:11, 20:12; Deut. 28:66; Psalms 116:10, 119:66; Job 4:18, 15:15, among others. When there is enough evidence to justify the decision to act, then we should act with perfect faithfulness. Once the evidence favors surgery, the operation should be carried out without compromise. Jewish belief demands complete faithfulness to principles for which we have adequate evidence of truth.”
I still think that what I wrote then is true. But there is at least one source for which it is not adequate:  

דעת תבונות
ג) אמרה הנשמה - הנה כל העיקרים הי"ג הנה הם מאומתים אצלי בלי שום ספק כלל; אבל יש מהם שהם מאומתים לי וגם מובנים, ויש מהם שהם מאומתים לי באמונה, אך לא מבוארים מן ההבנה והידיעה:
Translation: All thirteen principles are verified for me without any doubt at all…….

It seems clear from this passage in the דעת תבונות that my discussion of emuna meaning faithfulness to an idea and not complete conviction of its truth is not correct for the thirteen principles of emuna.

Then the question will be: if all we can achieve for the Torah in general is sufficiently high probability, how can we ever achieve this kind of complete conviction for the thirteen principles? Must we credit an absolute conviction going beyond reason?

I don’t think so.  
I wrote Reason to Believe for outsiders considering whether to accept the Torah as true. I claim there is adequate reason for them to do that. It does not follow that this adequate reason by itself enables them to fulfill all Jewish obligations.

How then shall we fulfill the obligation to believe the thirteen principles without any doubt? By adding more evidence to the reason that I presented in the book.

Here is how it might go. There are [at least] two sources of certainty:  (1) objective, a priori metaphysical necessity, like 2+2-4; nothing can be both round and square; numbers cannot be colored etc.; and (2) epistemological, a posteriori necessity of overwhelming evidence making any alternative impossible to take seriously, like I exist [not everyone agrees]; I see a table; I did not go swimming yesterday; I was not cloned but have biological parents. In sense (2) “certainty” does not refer to the events but to my belief: it is impossible for me to believe otherwise since the evidence I have is overwhelming.

If we are to treat all 13 ikarei haemuna as certain then (1) is out of the question. There is no objective necessity for prophecy or the coming of moshiach.

But (2) might work - if we consider evidence then it can be overwhelmingly likely that the principles are true. The words of the Chinuch which say that it is impossible to believe otherwise might be referring to the fact that the public experience of maamad har Sinai and the tradition of that experience passed down to us make us all witnesses to HKBH's existence and yetziaas mitzraim so it is impossible to take seriously any alternative. [Compare yesodie haTorah chap 8 on the belief in M”R’s nevua.]  And then the 13 will follow with the same certainty since the same tradition tells us that HKBH communicated them to us.