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the Masorah is correct;
the Divine will cares about my adherence to Judaism today;
there is a moral imperative for the Jew to be a man of Halachah.

Thus several crucial leaps of faith are embraced by Judaism. And while by definition monotheistic religion requires at least one “leap of faith,” the greater any religion’s reliance on “leaps of faith.” the more fragile its foundations.169 Religious viability can be endangered by right-wing theological enthusiasm, just as it can be sapped by left-wing rationalism.

Surely religious man takes as a premise that finite man cannot fully comprehend infinite God. Nevertheless, within that context, it is surely a plausible exercise to construct a palatable theological edifice.

Judaism, on the whole, is receptive to chukim, which are, by definition, without any apparent reason other than their Divine origin. Judaism, as a religion, is receptive to emotionally palatable “leaps of faith” and, according to most, to Divine “miracles”;170 but as a religious system it is emotionally honest and intellectually rigorous.

The fact that Judaism contains strong intellectual components should not be confused with Hermann Cohen’s “religion of reason.” For. contrary to Cohen’s formulation, Judaism does indeed validly contain not only a high level of reason, but also major leaps of faith along with a very strong ritual component. The ritual component is often not grounded in any rationale other than that it is Divinely ordained, which is its necessary and sufficient grounding. However, even the ritual component is somewhat subject to intellectual analysis.

Judaism has historically been what Marshall McLuhan would call a “cool” religion, as opposed to a “hot” religion. It is not frenzied, starry-eyed, or frantic.

It does invoke and require “leaps of faith,” yet it is well-considered, thoughtful, and even occasionally somewhat cynical in its religious approach. It will sift through the evidence endlessly before deciding a particularly intractable issue.

——————- NOTES ——————-

169 See Buber, “What Should We Do About the Ten Commandments?” in his Israel and the World. New York: Schocken, 1948, p. 86, as cited in Herberg, Judaism and Modern Man. “This affirmation-the ‘leap of faith’ that springs out of the decision for God-is not a leap of despair but rather a leap in triumph over despair.”

170 See Soloveitchik, Halakhic Man, p. 79. “He does not require any miracles or wonders in order to understand the Torah. He approaches the world of Halakhah with his mind and intellect, just as cognitive man ap-proaches the natural realm. And since he relies upon his intellect, he places his trust in it and does not suppress any of his psychic faculties in order to merge into some supernal existence.”


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