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  • Group 27 Entrar
Embarking on a journey of faith:

Embarking on a journey of faith:

The Beginning

It is fascinating to observe how the Khazar King turns to the philosopher in his attempt to find meaning in life and connect with something beyond the present reality. Initially, he is inclined towards the rational world, as he believes that religion, being an irrational concept, cannot provide a logical explanation for the existence of God, who cannot be encountered within the natural world or the laws of nature.

The Philosopher's God

Interestingly, the philosopher mentioned in the passage believes in God, but his concept of God is quite different from what most people think. According to the philosopher, God is too distant and exalted to have any relationship with individuals. Instead, humans can only connect with the "Active Intellect," a part of nature created by God that controls and guides it. However, this connection with the Active Intellect is the maximum that a person can achieve.

We will learn how the Khazar King reacts to the philosopher's position.

Kuzari - Philosopher's last words: 

“...In fine, seek purity of heart in whatever way thou art able, provided thou hast acquired total knowledge in its real essence. Thou wilt reach thy goal, viz., the union with this Spiritual or relatively Active Intellect. Maybe he will communicate with thee or teach thee the knowledge of what is hidden through true dreams and positive visions.”

Kuzari - philosopher debate (last part):

Said to him the Khazari: Your words are convincing, yet they do not correspond to what I wish to find. I know already that my soul is pure and that my actions are calculated to gain the favor of God. To all this, I received the answer that this way of action does not find favor, though the intention does. There must no doubt be a way of acting pleasing by its very nature but not through the medium of intentions. If this is not so, why, then, do Christians and Muslims, who divide the inhabited world between them, fight with one another, each of them serving his God with pure intention, living either as monks or hermits, fasting and praying? For all that, they vie with each other in committing murders, believing that this is a most pious work and brings them nearer to God. They fight, believing that paradise and eternal bliss will be their reward. It is, however, impossible to agree with both.

4 The Philosopher replied: The philosophers' creed knows no manslaughter, as they only cultivate the intellect.

5   Al Khazari: What could be more erroneous, in the opinion of the philosophers, than the belief that the world was created in six days or that the Prime Cause spoke with mortals, not to mention the philosophical doctrine, which declares the former to be above knowing details. In addition to this, one might expect the gift of prophecy to be quite common among philosophers, considering their deeds, their knowledge, their research after truth, their exertions, and their close connection with all things spiritual, as that wonders, miracles, and extraordinary things would be reported of them. Yet we find that true visions are granted to persons who do not devote themselves to study or the purification of their souls, whereas the opposite is true with those who strive after these things. This proves that the divine influence and the souls have a secret which is not identical with what you say, O Philosopher.

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

Questions to sharpen understanding of the Text above:

  1. The Path to God: Is there one authentic way to reach God? Can we reach Him through reason, faith, or a combination?
  2. Religion and Violence: Why do different religions, which believe in the same God, fight each other? Is it possible to reconcile the contradiction between pure faith and violence?
  3. Prophecy and Intellect: Why do prophecies seem to occur more with people who don't focus on philosophy and wisdom but with ordinary people?
  4. Choosing a Religion: How should one choose a religion? Should we choose based on the number of believers, the power of the religion, or our inner sense of truth? Is there a way to know which religion is "the right one"?



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

The Alchemist, Viktor Frankl, and the Quest for Meaning

The KuzariThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and Viktor Frankl's life all offer valuable insights into the human search for meaning. While these works come from different cultures and periods, they share a common theme: the importance of personal experience and the limitations of purely intellectual approaches to understanding the world.


The Alchemist: A Journey of Self-Discovery

In The Alchemist, Santiago, a young shepherd, embarks on a quest to find a hidden treasure. Along the way, he encounters various characters who teach him valuable lessons about life, love, and pursuing one's dreams. Like the King of the Khazars, Santiago finds his personal experiences are more important than any intellectual theories he might encounter.

Viktor Frankl: Finding Meaning in Suffering

Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychologist who survived the Holocaust, wrote about his experiences in Man's Search for Meaning. Frankl argues that it is possible to find meaning in life even in the darkest times. He developed a psychological theory called "logotherapy," which emphasizes the importance of finding meaning in one's suffering.

The Unity of Experience and Reason

The KuzariThe Alchemist, and Viktor Frankl's life all suggest that the human search for meaning requires a balance between experience and reason. While our experiences provide valuable insights, we must also use our reason to critically examine our beliefs and make sense of the world around us.


Additional Points:

[A] The Kuzari reflects the Jewish belief that the Torah is a divine revelation and resonates with human reason. Key Differences Between the Philosopher's Approach and the Jewish Approach.

[B] In his work The Guide for the Perplexed, Maimonides highlights two fundamental distinctions between the philosopher's approach, which asserts that God is the "Active Intellect," and the Jewish approach:

1. Creation vs. Eternity:

  • Philosopher's View: Philosophers maintain that the world is eternal and has always existed, implying an absence of creation. This aligns with the concept of an infinite universe in ancient Greek philosophy.
  • Jewish View: Judaism upholds the belief in a created universe, with God as the creator. The Torah, Judaism's foundational text, narrates the creation account in Genesis.

2. Determinism vs. Free Will:

  • Philosopher's View: The philosopher adheres to a deterministic worldview, suggesting that the world operates under predetermined laws, limiting the scope of free will.
  • Jewish View: Judaism emphasizes the concept of free will, asserting that humans can make choices and influence their destiny. This aligns with the moral responsibility inherent in Jewish teachings.

Significance of These Differences:

These distinctions underscore the fundamental divergence between the philosopher's rationalistic approach and the Jewish perspective rooted in faith and revelation. While the philosopher seeks to explain the world through reason aloneJudaism integrates both reason and faith, recognizing the limitations of purely intellectual inquiry.

The Role of Faith in the Jewish Approach:

Faith plays a crucial role in the Jewish approach, enabling individuals to connect with a transcendent reality beyond physical existence. It provides a framework for understanding the world and one's place, offering a sense of purpose and meaning.


The differences between the philosopher's and Jewish approaches highlight the multifaceted nature of truth-seeking. While reason undoubtedly plays a valuable role, faith provides an additional dimension, allowing for a deeper understanding of the human experience and our relationship with GOD.

    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!


    "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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