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  • Group 27 Einloggen
Embarking on a journey of faith:

As we have learned last time, the Khazar king rejected the philosopher's method for three main reasons:

  • Focus on Intention vs. Action: The king believes actions themselves hold weight, not just the intentions behind them. He sees Christians and Muslims fighting despite good intentions, highlighting the need for inherently righteous actions.
  • Limited Scope of Philosophy: The philosopher disregards religious experiences like prophecy, which the king finds illogical. Philosophers claim intellectual pursuits lead to truth, yet prophets, not known for study, receive visions. This suggests a "divine influence" beyond pure reason.
  • Contradictions in Religious Doctrines: The king questions the philosopher's acceptance of seemingly contradictory religious beliefs. Both Christians and Muslims believe they serve God, yet they fight each other. This shows the philosopher's method can't reconcile these differences.

    After this, the Khazari said to himself:

    6 I will ask the Christians and Muslims since one of these persuasions is undoubtedly God-pleasing. As regards the Jews, I am satisfied that they are of low station, few in number, and generally despised.

    7 He then invited a Christian scholastic and asked him questions concerning the theory and practice of his faith.

    Kuzari & Christian:

    8 The Scholastic replied: I believe that all things are created, while the Creator is eternal; that He made the whole world in six days; that all humankind sprang from Adam, and after him from Noah, to whom they trace themselves back; that God takes care of the created beings, and keeps in touch with man; that He shows wrath, pleasure, and compassion; that He speaks, appears, and reveals Himself to His prophets and favored ones; that He dwells among those who please him In short [I believe] in all that is written in the Torah and the records of the Children of Israel, which are undisputed, because they are generally known as lasting, and have been revealed before a vast multitude.                             Subsequently, the divine essence became embodied in an embryo in the womb of a virgin taken from the noblest ranks of Israelite women. She bore Him with the semblance of a human being, but covering a divinity, seemingly a prophet, but in reality a God sent forth.               He is the Messiah, whom we call the Son of God, and He is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.                        We condense His nature into one thing, although the Trinity appears on our tongues. We believe in Him and His abode among the Children of Israel, granted to them as a distinction because the divine influence never ceased to be attached to them until the masses rebelled against this Messiah, and they crucified Him. Then divine wrath burdened them everlastingly, while the favor was confined to a few who followed the Messiah and those nations that followed these few. We belong to their number.                             Although we are not of Israelite descent, we are well deserving of being called Children of Israel because we follow the Messiah and His twelve Israelite companions who took the place of the tribes. Many Israelites followed these twelve [apostles] and became the leaven, as it were, for the Christians. We are worthy of the degree of the Children of Israel. To us, it was also granted victory and expansion over the countries.                           All nations are invited to this religion and charged to practice it, to adore the Messiah and the cross on which He was put, and the like. Our laws and regulations are derived from the Apostle Simon and from ordinations taken from the Torah, which we study. Its truth is indisputable, as is the fact that it came from God. It is also stated in the New Testament: I came not to destroy one of the laws of Moses but to confirm and enlarge it.

    9 Then said the Khazari: I see here no logical conclusion; nay, logic rejects most of what thou sayest. If both appearance and experience are so palpable that they take hold of the whole heart, compelling belief in a thing of which one is not convinced, they render the matter more feasible by a semblance of logic. This is how natural philosophers deal with strange phenomena that come upon them unawares and that they would not believe if they had only heard of them without seeing them. When they have examined them, they discuss them and ascribe them to the influence of stars or spirits without disproving ocular evidence. As for me, I cannot accept these things because they come upon me suddenly, not having grown up in them. I must investigate further.

    Questions to sharpen understanding of the Text above:

    1. Internal Consistency: Scholastic mentions the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one), the distinct identities of the Son (born of a virgin), and the Messiah. How does Scholastic reconcile the seeming contradiction between the oneness of God and the existence of separate entities within the divine?
    2. Universality vs. Chosen People: Scholastic claims all are invited to this religion, yet emphasizes a special connection to the Israelites and their lineage. Is this emphasis on chosen people compatible with the universality of the faith?
    3. Historical Verification: Scholastic relies on widely known and accepted historical records. However, how can the truth of miraculous events, like the virgin birth or the resurrection, be established through historical accounts alone?
    4. Why did the Khazar King Reject the Christian Scholar's Method?

    Kuzari & Muslims:

    He then invited one of the Doctors of Islam and questioned him regarding his doctrine and observance.

    5. The Doctor said: We acknowledge the unity and eternity of God and that all men are derived from Adam-Noah. We reject embodiment, and if any element of this appears in the Writ, we explain it as a metaphor and allegory. At the same time, we maintain that our Book is the Speech of God, a miracle that we are bound to accept for its own sake since no one can bring anything similar to it or one of its verses. Our prophet is the Seal of the Prophets, who abrogated every previous law and invited all nations to embrace Islam. The reward of the pious consists in the return of his spirit to his body in paradise and bliss, where he never ceases to enjoy eating, drinking, woman's love, and anything he may desire. The disobedient's requital consists of being condemned to the fire of hell, and his punishment knows no end.

    1. Said to him the Khazari: If anyone is to be guided in matters divine and to be convinced that God speaks to man, while he considers it improbable, he must be confident of it utilizing generally known facts, which allow no refutation, and particularly imbue him with the belief that God has spoken to man. Although your book may be a miracle, as long as it is written in Arabic, a non-Arab, as I am, cannot perceive its miraculous character, and even if it were read to me, I could not distinguish between it and any other book written in the Arabic language.
    1. The Doctor replied: Yet, he performed miracles, but they were not used as evidence for the acceptance of his law.
    1. Al Khazari: Exactly so, but the human mind cannot believe that God has intercourse with man except through a miracle that changes the nature of things. He then recognizes that to do so, He alone can create them from zero. It must also have occurred in the presence of great multitudes, who saw it distinctly and did not learn it from reports and traditions. Even then, they must examine the matter carefully and repeatedly so that no suspicion of imagination or magic can enter their minds. Then the mind may grasp this extraordinary matter, viz. that the Creator of this world and the next, of the heavens and lights, should hold intercourse with this vile piece of clay, I mean man, speak to him, and fulfill his wishes and desires.
    2. The Doctor: Is not our Book full of the stories of Moses and the Children of Israel? No one can deny what He did to Pharaoh, how He divided the sea and saved those who enjoyed His favor but drowned those who had aroused His wrath. Then came the manna and the quails during forty years, His speaking to Moses on the mount, making the sun stand still for Joshua, and assisting him against the mighty. [Add to this] what happened previously, viz. the Flood, the destruction of the people of Lot; is this not so well known that no suspicion of deceit and imagination is possible?

    Questions to sharpen understanding of the Text above:

    1. Miracles and Literacy: The Islamic scholar emphasizes the Quran as a miracle due to its unique language. How can something specific to one language (Arabic) be a universal miracle for everyone, including those who don't understand Arabic?
    2. Nature of Prophethood: The scholar claims Muhammad is the "Seal of the Prophets," ending the need for further revelation. How does this reconcile with the concept of an ever-evolving relationship between God and humanity?
    3. Heaven and Hell Descriptions: The descriptions of heaven and hell focus heavily on physical pleasures and punishments. Does this portrayal limit the concept of reward and punishment beyond the material world?
    4. Why did the Khazar King Reject the Christian Scholar's Method?


    Insights of this class from the Chavruta program group Zoom session: 

    Our exploration of faith and spirituality continues as we delve into the intricate tapestry of Christianity and Islam. Yesterday's discourse shed light on these two influential religions' origins and core tenets, each offering a distinct path to salvation and understanding of the divine.

    Christianity proclaims Jesus as the Son of God. It is a belief system devoid of reason and fundamentally opposed to the Khazar king's requirement for alignment among deeds, thoughts, and faith.

    Islam asserts its divine status and urges all to embrace its teachings, yet when grappling with the profound connection between the boundless Creator and humanity, it too resorts to the stories of the Israelites' extraordinary feats.

    The ongoing conflict in the Middle East spread over to the rest of the world can be viewed, in part, as a manifestation of the enduring tensions between Christianity and Islam. 

    As we embark on this profound journey of spiritual exploration, we must approach these topics with an open mind.

    Maimonides' writings on the Messiah are also cited, suggesting that Jesus' and Muhammad's actions ultimately served as a prelude to the arrival of the true Messiah. This perspective offers a unique lens through which to view the interconnectedness of these faiths.


      Unlocking UnderstandingA Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering Texts

      1. Listen and Engage: The first step is actively listening to the Text during your initial read-through. Try to understand the main topics discussed in it.

      2. Comprehend the Text: After your initial read-through, try to understand the author's main ideas. Try to capture the spirit of the Text and its underlying purpose.

      3. Imagination and Connection: Use your understanding of the Text to relate it to familiar scenarios or phenomena you know about. How do the topics discussed in the Text compare to real-life situations?

      4. Delve Deeper into the Text: Once you've grasped the essential components of the Text, revisit it. Try comprehending finer details such as numerical data, examples, and analyses that help you understand the subject matter more deeply.

      5. Reread with Purpose: After delving deeper into the Text, reread it. This time, try to understand the point at which the Text was written without focusing solely on the details. Concentrate on the main ideas and central purpose of the Text.

      With dedication and perseverance, you can unlock the secrets of any text and gain invaluable insights that will enrich your understanding of the world around you. Active engagement is crucial for achieving success in your reading endeavors. Listening attentively, understanding deeply, and connecting the Text to your experiences is essential. Take the time to delve into the finer details, and don't be afraid to ask questions or seek help when needed.

      Embrace the power of knowledge and embark on a transformative learning adventure!

      Enjoying the content? are you reading it on your own?

      "The Rabbi: The faculty of speech is to transmit the idea of the speaker into the soul of the hearer. Such intention, however, can only be carried out to perfection by means of oral communication. This is better than writing. The proverb is: 'From the mouths of scholars, but not from the mouth of books.'" (Kuzari)

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      Brit Olam team



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