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Embarking on a journey of faith:

We continue a transformative journey to explore a timeless text that has guided generations. As Maimonides reminds us, the first commandment is to acknowledge God.

Rabbi Yehuda Halevi's "Kazri" serves as a tool to strengthen faith through insightful dialogues. This journey is not solitary—we are all pilgrims sharing our unique perspectives in search of knowledge and spiritual growth.

With open hearts and minds, let's begin this journey together, searching for wisdom, understanding, and a deeper connection to the Creator. Exploring its reverse perspective can also be valuable for truly understanding a concept. Therefore, we start with a Philosopher.

Kuzari - Introduction: 

“...When the King of Khazar (as is related) dreamt that his way of thinking was agreeable to God but not his way of acting and was commanded in the same dream to seek God-pleasing work, he inquired of a philosopher concerning his religious persuasion.

Kuzari - philosopher:
  1. The philosopher replied: 

There is no favor or dislike in [the nature of] God because He is above desire and intention. A desire intimates a want in the person who feels it, and not till it is satisfied does he become (so to speak) complete. If it remains unfulfilled, he lacks completion. Similarly, in the opinion of philosophers, He is above the knowledge of individuals because the latter changes with the times. At the same time, there is no change in God's wisdom. He, therefore, does not know thee, much less thy thoughts and actions, nor does He listen to thy prayers or see thy movements. If philosophers say that He created thee, they only use a metaphor because He is the Cause of causes in the creation of all creatures, but not because this was His intention from the beginning. He never created man. For the world is without beginning, and there never arose a man otherwise than through one who came into existence before him, in whom were united forms, gifts, and Characteristics are inherited from father, mother, and other relations, besides climate influences, countries, foods and water, spheres, stars, and constellations. Everything is reduced to a Prime Cause, not to a Will proceeding from this, but an Emanation from which emanated a second, a third, and fourth cause. As you can see, the cause and the caused are intimately connected, their coherence being as eternal as the prime cause and having no beginning. Every individual on earth has their completing causes; consequently, an individual with perfect causes becomes perfect, and another with imperfect causes remains imperfect, as the negro who can receive nothing more than the human shape and speech in its least developed form. The philosopher, equipped with the highest capacity, gets the advantages of disposition, intelligence, and active power through it, so he wants nothing to make him perfect. Now, these perfections exist but in abstract and require instruction and training to become practical so that this capacity, with all its completeness or deficiencies and endless grades, may become visible. 

(Q1. Who created the world, according to the Philosopher?)

In the perfect person, a light of divine nature, called Active Intellect, is with him, and its Passive Intellect is so closely connected in addition to that that both are but one. The person [of such perfection] thus observes that he is The Active Intellect himself and that there is no difference between them. His organs--I mean the limbs of such a person--only serve for perfect purposes, in the most appropriate time, and in the best condition, as if they were the organs of the Active Intellect, but not of the material and passive Intellect, which used them at an earlier period, sometimes well, but more often improperly. The Active Intellect, however, is always successful. This degree is the last and most longed-for goal for the perfect man whose soul, after being purified, has grasped the inward truths of all branches of science, has thus become equal to an angel, and has found a place on the nethermost step of seraphic beings. This is the degree of the Active Intellect, viz., that angel whose degree is below the angel connected with the moon's sphere. There are spiritual forces, detached from matter but eternal like the Prime Cause and never threatened by decay. Thus, the soul of the perfect man and that Intellect becomes One, without concern for the decay of his body or organs, because he becomes united to the other. His soul is cheerful while he is alive because it enjoys the company of Hermes, Asclepios, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, nay, he and they, and everyone who shares their degree and the Active Intellect, are one thing. This is what is called the allusively and approximately Pleasure of God. Endeavor to reach it and the proper knowledge of things so that thy intellect may become active but not passive. 

Keep just ways regarding character and actions to help you affect truth, gain instruction, and become similar to this Active Intellect. The consequence of this will be contentment, humility, meekness, and every other praiseworthy inclination, accompanied by the adoration of the Prime Cause, not to receive favor from it or to divert its wrath, but solely to become like the Active Intellect in finding the truth, in fittingly describing everything, and in rightly recognizing its basis. These are the characteristics of the [Active] Intellect. If you have reached such disposition of belief, be reassured about the forms of your humility, religion, worship, word, language, or actions you employ. You may even choose a religion in the way of humility, worship, and benediction for the management of thy temperament, house, and [the people of thy] country if they agree. Or fashion thy religion according to the laws of reason set up by philosophers and strive after purity of soul.

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.

More questions to sharpen understanding of the Text above:

  1. What is the "Active Intellect," and how does one achieve it?
  2. What is the ultimate goal for a "perfect man," according to the philosopher?
  3. How does this passage contrast with the opening one (the dream) regarding the nature of God and human interaction with the divine?
  4. What ethical implications does the philosopher's view of "Active Intellect" and "favor" have?
  5. What kind of audience is this passage likely intended for, and why?


Insights of this class from the Chavruta program group Zoom session

"The unexamined life is not worth living." (Socrates)

According to Socrates' assumption, the Kuzari search begins his discussion with the Philosopher. 

Yesterday, we explored the Philosopher's response to the 12th-century philosophical work by Judah Halevi in his phenomenal Kuzari book. In this response, the Philosopher presents his unique perspective on God, man's role, and the path to spiritual fulfillment. Let's take a closer look at some of the main points from this text: 

Faith Not for the Faint of Mind: We Demand Reason Alongside Religion

Kuzari's book differs from traditional religious approaches by emphasizing the role of intellect in pursuing God. He believes a comprehensive understanding that includes reasoning, emotions, and imagination is crucial for genuine faith. Man is one unit! 

"The unexamined life is not worth living." (Socrates)

The Concept of God:

In contrast to the traditional Jewish idea of a personal and involved God, the Philosopher portrays a more distant and indifferent deity. This depiction places man in existential isolation without any direct divine intervention.

Limitations of Philosophy:

The Philosopher acknowledges that philosophy has limitations, particularly its historical and cultural constraints. He suggests philosophical frameworks may not provide universal answers or cater to humanity's diverse needs. King Kuzar, seeking universal meaning, may find this philosophical approach needing to be revised.

Science and Philosophy:

Scientific theories are not static; they evolve, subject to scrutiny and revision. Just as we view past scientific explanations critically, future generations may regard our current understanding skeptically.

Halevi's emphasis on a holistic approach to faith inspires us to integrate reason, emotion, and imagination. How can we incorporate these different aspects into our spiritual journeys?  



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)

Consider joining our "Chavruta" program. Learn these text with a study partner!


we are approaching the end of the current study cycle. If you are intersted in the program, please fill out the registration form, and we will update when a new study cycle opens.

In the meantime, you are welcome to listen to recordings of the lessons given in the 1st cycle

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