50.01 Intellectuality (pps.36-39)

hard cover page 39

and indeed often from within as well, has very little margin for laxity. On the other hand, a religion which convincingly articulates and grounds its dogma can survive anything and everything.

A religious man of reason (including the man of Halachah), bridles at religious fervor which lacks firm intellectual supports. While cognizant of the authentic possibilities of rapture and bliss, he is wary of them. To him the world of reason and of the intellect is not the enemy. The religious man of reason, and particularly the man of Halachah, yields to no man intellectually. He is sometimes dismissed as a blasphemer by those who stress fervor over reason. Yet religious man of reason need not waver in response to the vacuous sloganism of fanatic elements of the right, just as he need not cow under overrated assaults from the left. It is thus incumbent on him to seriously examine and reexamine, and if necessary refine, his intellectual and religious understanding of basic issues.156

On the one hand, it is crucial that he guard that his religious practices are not added to or subtracted from gratuitously by zealots of the religious left or right. On the other hand, the intellectual components of his theological formulation must be clear, intelligible, and well-developed. That which is emotionally grounded must be demarcated from that which is intellectual.157 And that which is alleged to be in the realm of the intellectual must be defensible on those grounds.158

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——————- NOTES ——————-

156 See Fackenheim, God’s Presence in History, p. 88. “The voice of Auschwitz commands the religious Jew after Auschwitz to continue to wrestle with his God in however revolutionary ways.”

157 See Agus, The Evolution of Jewish Thought, p. 184. “Maimonides did not conceive the problem of theology to be the conquest of reason by faith, but the determination of the proper domains for the functioning of each faculty. In its own sphere of operation, reason is essentially jealous, brooking no rivals in the finality of its analysis and judgment. One cannot drive bargains and patch up compromises with reason, but having determined the field extend- ing beyond its reach, we may allow the postulates of faith to prevail in that area of indetermination.”

158 See Gordis, A Faith for Moderns, introductory “Warning to the Reader”: “A reasonable faith will recognize the bounds of man’s reason and will necessarily go beyond it in its vision of reality, but it will not scorn reason or contradict it, for it remains man’s indispensable guide.”


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