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Embarking on a journey of faith:

The Khazar king rejects the Christian scholar's method because it relies on uncritically accepted beliefs rather than logical reasoning. He acknowledges the power of lived experience and established truths but argues that the Christian claims are presented "suddenly" and require further investigation. He seeks a system that combines logic and evidence to verify the truth of religious beliefs.

The Khazar King disagrees with the Islamic scholar's arguments for two reasons. Firstly, the King believes that a miracle confined to a specific language would not be universally recognizable. Secondly, he thinks that many people must witness a miracle, which must be so incontestable that explanations like magic or imagination are implausible.


  

The Hebrew Faith [Part A]:

  1. The Rabbi replied: I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, who led the children of Israel out of Egypt with signs and miracles; who fed them in the desert and gave them the land, after having made them traverse the sea and the Jordan in a miraculous way; who sent Moses with His law, and subsequently thousands of prophets, who confirmed His law by promises to the observant, and threats to the disobedient. Our belief is comprised in the Torah--a very large domain.
  2. Al Khazari: I had not intended to ask any Jew, because I am aware of their reduced condition and narrow-minded views, as their misery left them nothing commendable. Now shouldst thou, O Jew, not have said that thou believest in the Creator of the world, its Governor and Guide, and in Him who created and keeps thee, and such attributes which serve as evidence for every believer, and for the sake of which He pursues justice in order to resemble the Creator in His wisdom and justice?
  3. The Rabbi: That which thou dost express is religion based on speculation and system, the research of thought, but open to many doubts. Now ask the philosophers, and thou wilt find that they do not agree on one action or one principle, since some doctrines can be established by arguments, which are only partially satisfactory, and still much less capable of being proved.
  4. Al Khazari: That which thou sayest now, O Jew, seems to be more to the point than the beginning, and I should like to hear more.
  5. The Rabbi: Surely the beginning of my speech was just the proof, and so evident that it requires no other argument.
  6. Al Khazari: How so?
  7. The Rabbi: Allow me to make a few preliminary remarks, for I see thee disregarding and depreciating my words.
  8. Al Khazari: Let me hear thy remarks.
  9. The Rabbi: If thou wert told that the King of India was an excellent man, commanding admiration, and deserving his high reputation, one whose actions were reflected in the justice which rules his country and the virtuous ways of his subjects, would this bind thee to revere him?
  10. Al Khazari: How could this bind me, whilst I am not sure if the justice of the Indian people is natural, and not dependent on their king, or due to the king or both?
  11. The Rabbi: But if his messenger came to thee bringing presents which thou knowest to be only procurable in India, and in the royal palace, accompanied by a letter in which it is distinctly stated from whom it comes, and to which are added drugs to cure thy diseases, to preserve thy health, poisons for thy enemies, and other means to fight and kill them without battle, would this make thee beholden to him?
  12. Al Khazari: Certainly. For this would remove my former doubt that the Indians have a king. I should also acknowledge that a proof of his power and dominion has reached me.
  13. The Rabbi: How wouldst thou, then, if asked, describe him?
  14. Al Khazari: In terms about which I am quite clear, and to these I could add others which were at first rather doubtful, but are no longer so.
  15. The Rabbi: In this way I answered thy first question.    In the same strain spoke Moses to Pharaoh, when he told him: 'The God of the Hebrews sent me to thee,' viz. the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For Abraham was well known to the nations, who also knew that the divine spirit was in contact with the patriarchs, cared for them, and performed miracles for them. He did not say: 'The God of heaven and earth,' nor 'my Creator and thine sent me.'                  In the same way God commenced His speech to the assembled people of Israel: 'I am the God whom you worship, who has led you out of the land of Egypt,' but He did not say: 'I am the Creator of the world and your Creator.'                     Now in the same style I spoke to thee, a Prince of the Khazars, when thou didst ask me about my creed. I answered thee as was fitting, and is fitting for the whole of Israel who knew these things, first from personal experience, and afterwards through uninterrupted tradition, which is equal to the former.

Questions to sharpen understanding of the Text above:

  1. What evidence does the Rabbi use to support his belief in God? (Focuses on details from the Rabbi's answer)
  2. Why does the Khazar King find the Rabbi's initial response to his question unsatisfactory? (understand the King's perspective)
  3. How does the Rabbi justify his way of answering the King's question about his belief? (Analyze the Rabbi's reasoning)
  4. How does this passage reflect faith vs. reason in religious belief? 
  5. Can a perspective be identified in the way the Rabbi presents his arguments?
  6. If so, what is that perspective, and what are its implications for interpreting the text?

[below, you can find more questions that will help you to finetune question no' 6]

  • Does the Rabbi present all sides of the issue?
  • Does the Rabbi use logical arguments?
  • Does the Rabbi rely on credible evidence?
  • Do the Rabbi's arguments align with my worldview?

Hebrew Faith [Part B]
A Unique 'GOD' who relates to the Hebrew nation 'only'?! [Part 6]

 

 

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

Beyond the Spectacle: Why Jewish Faith Relies on Certainty, Not Miracles

Misconceptions about the basis of the Jewish faith
A common misconception, often resulting from a superficial reading of the Khazari, is that the Jewish faith is based solely on miracles. However, a closer examination of the Khazari reveals a more profound concept: certainty.

Miracles, though awe-inspiring, are like flashes of lightning in the dark. They provide a momentary glimpse of the grand plan, but their brilliance dazzles rather than illuminates. Once the blinding light fades, the observer is left in the dark again.
This explains why in Exodus 17, despite witnessing countless miracles, the people ask Moses: "Is God among us or not?" (Exodus 17:7)

The Khazari parable about the king of India further illustrates this concept. The king's certainty about the distant land of India is based on reliable reports from travelers who bring gifts from the king and on proven personal experience. After that, we can also tell about things we have heard, although we are still determining the certainty of those things.

Also, the Creator established the covenant with the Israelites at Mount Sinai through a statement of absolute certainty:

"I am the Lord - and you can know me for sure because I am he - who brought you out of the land of Egypt." (Exodus 22:2)

He only mentions the creation of heaven and earth in the fourth commandment regarding Sabbath observance. Was anyone present during the creation? No. Therefore, this knowledge is not as specific as the first-hand experience of the exodus from Egypt, the liberation from slavery and the road to redemption.

The Maimonides, in his Mishna Torah (Hilchot Yesodi HaTorah 8:1-2), succinctly summarizes this principle:

"The Jews did not believe in Moses, we learned, because of the miracles he did. Whenever anyone's faith is based on miracles, the commitment of his heart is lacking, because miracles can be done through magic or sorcery."

"What is the source of our faith in him? The revelation on Mount Sinai. Our eyes saw, and not a stranger's. Our ears heard and no one else's. There were fire, thunder and lightning. He entered the thick clouds; a voice spoke to him and we heard, 'Moses, Moses, go he said to them...' " (Deuteronomy 5, 22-24)

"This is how Deuteronomy 5:4 says: 'God spoke to you face to face', and in Deuteronomy 5:3 it is said: 'God did not make this covenant with our ancestors, but with us, who are all here living today.'"

Before this revelation, their faith was not unshakable; It was susceptible to doubts and uncertainties.

How can we define this belief, given that it occurred thousands of years ago?

All of Israel witnessed Moses' appointment in the revelation at Mount Sinai, and he was no longer required to perform miracles for them.

(For a deeper understanding, please look at the original text.)

Does this distinguish the Israelites from the nations of the world?

 

    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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