Rationalist Judaism? What does that mean?

Based on a recent lecture in Syracuse, New York- recorded by Avi Bluming


An unresolved topic is the issue of a Judaism based on “rationalism”.Though the Rambam AKA Maimonides is considered one of the most important thinkers of Jewish philosophy, he Suffered Much undesired controversy. The critics of his rationalistic project were great thinkers such as Hasdai Crescas and R’Don Yitzchok Abarvanel. Another important alternative to Maimonidean Rationalism was jewish mysticism AKA Kabbalah . R’ Don Issac Abarvanel is Particularly critical of the Rambam’s understanding of miracles which downplays their supernatural qualities. In Abarvanels books, Mifalot Elokim and Rosh Amana he asserts that Miracles are supernatural events performed by Hashem directly as the creator of the Universe.


During the 11th century jews were blessed with a unique scholar known as Rabbenu Yehuda Halevi. He authored a book that the Gaon of Vilna encouraged jews to study. The book was Called the ‘Kuzari’.


The Kuzari expected religion to be based in a subjective and personal experience not rational Explanation (that is how he explains the episode of Moshe Rabbenu and the sneh aka burning Bush).


However in contrast to R’ Don Y Abarvanel, the Kuzari was not anti Rationalist.


(To be continued)

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