60.00 LEAPS OF FAITH
hard cover page 43
Judaism tries to “cool off” overzealous would-be converts. While its ultimate aim is a spiritual upliftment, it is still wary of extremes and of overemotionalisrn in any direction. It is wary of the self-denying ascetic and is wary of the man of frenzy.
The development of Masorah through the present day is a continuum of reasoned analysis, debate carefully circumscribed by accepted doctrine, rules of explication, and prior halachic guidelines.
Indeed, one of the elements which has sustained the Jew through the fearsome millennia has been the careful grounding of Jewish law and doctrine. This has inculcated an internal confidence which has withstood the manifold severe tests of time.
From our theological perspective, we would maintain that Judaism can embrace limited “leaps of faith,” provided the leaps are not counter-intuitive. A “leap of faith” may be positive-intuitive or neutral but should not be counter-intuitive. In order to incorporate a “leap of faith,” Jewish man must have faith in the leap. Eliezer Berkovits notes as follows:
Yehuda Halevi, who was not a rationalist, found it necessary to exclaim: “God forbid that there should be anything in the Torah that is contrary to reason!” The Torah is not absurd and the authentic Jew does not engage in religious acrobatics. To believe in the absurd is absurd.171
Bleich drives home the point:
Jewish philosophers have repeatedly stressed that God cannot command man to accept the illogical or the irrational. The human intellect, no matter how much it may desire to do so, cannot affirm the absurd. Man may, if prompted by a sufficiently compelling reason, postulate the existence of unicorns or mer- maids, but he cannot affirm the existence of a geometric object which is at one and the same time endowed with the properties of both a square and a circle. He cannot fathom the concept of a square circle, much less affirm the ontological existence of such an object.
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171 Berkovits, With God in Hell, p. 123.
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