For the past little while, I've been debating with a "Christian" Jew (which is as ridiculous as "kosher pork" or "Christians for Vishnu") and we've come to the topic of faith. In this post I want to contrast the concept of faith in Judaism with that of Christianity and Islam. I trust that my Christian friends won't be insulted but after all, this is my blog and I can talk about my faith.
To start it off, I do not believe anything based on blind faith. As a Jew, I am naturally a skeptic. The name Israel literally means "he who wrestles with G-d". This is is stark opposition to Islam, which means "submission". When G-d revealed to our Father Abraham that He planned to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, instead of telling G-d that those sinners deserved it or remaining silent, Abraham protested. He said to G-d 'Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt Thou indeed sweep away and not forgive the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, that so the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from Thee; shall not the Judge of all the earth do justly?' (Genesis 18:23-25)
That's not to say that I don't believe. As a Jew, I believe in the Rambam, Mainmonides', 13 Principles of Faith in which every Jew must believe in order to have a share in the World to Come. They are:
1. I believe with perfect faith that G-d is the Creator and Ruler of all things. He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.
2. I believe with perfect faith that G-d is One. There is no unity that is in any way like His. He alone is our G-d He was, He is, and He will be.
3. I believe with perfect faith that G-d does not have a body. physical concepts do not apply to Him. There is nothing whatsoever that resembles Him at all.
4. I believe with perfect faith that G-d is first and last.
5. I believe with perfect faith that it is only proper to pray to G-d. One may not pray to anyone or anything else.
6. I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.
7. I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses is absolutely true. He was the chief of all prophets, both before and after Him.
8. I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that we now have is that which was given to Moses.
9. I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be changed, and that there will never be another given by G-d.
10. I believe with perfect faith that G-d knows all of man's deeds and thoughts. It is thus written (Psalm 33:15), "He has molded every heart together, He understands what each one does."
11. I believe with perfect faith tha G-d rewards those who keep His commandments, and punishes those who transgress Him.
12. I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah. Even though he may tarry, I will await his coming every day.
13. I believe with perfect faith that the dead will be brought back to life when G-d wills it to happen.
This belief is not blind. It is based on reason, logic and above all, on the faithful traditions that we received from our forefathers. What separates Judaism and the Torah from all other religions or belief systems? The answer lies in the public revelation of Mount Sinai.
There is no religion besided Judaism that believes in a public revelation, that G-d Himself descended and revealed himself to multitudes of people, to an entire nations. Muhammad wrote the Qur'an alone in a cave. Would it have been much more convincing if Allah would have handed it to him at Mecca infront of a million Muslims? Similarly, Jesus only performed miracles for his apostles or a handful of other people, certainly nothing on the scale of Sinai. Such an enormous story would be impossible to make up. If the Torah had been fabricated (G-d forbid) and the author would have begun preaching his new truth to the Jewish people, the Jews would have asked why their parents had never related to them the event at Sinai. Why had they never before heard of this unique happening, in which their parents or grandparents had seen G-d and heard His voice. The Torah makes this point very clearly. 'For ask now of the days past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one end of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever a people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before thine eyes?' (Deuteronmy 4:32-34)
Truely, is there any other people that claim such a thing? Do any other religions have millions of witnesses to butress their claims? All other divine revelations in non-Jewish religions are in private, with nor reliable witnesses or spectators. Paul on his way to Damascus, Constantine while on a bridge losing a big battle, Jesus in his Transfiguration, and the Mormon Joseph Smith, in a wooded grove. Why would G-d stake something so important as His Torah, His word, on the individual claims of one person? If Mohammed was meant to be His prophet, He would have declared so publicly. It is not enough to simply believe, we must think logically.
Therefore, I know, based on empirical fact, that G-d exists, that He rescued my ancestors from Egypt and that He gave the Jewish People the Torah on Mount Sinai, in front of 600 000 men, an equal number of women, their many children, along with, as the Rabbis tell us, the souls of every future Jew. The Torah has authority and is validated in a way that no other religious book is. The New Testament was written by several different authors 100 years after Jesus and is full of conflicting accounts, the Qur'an was "revealed" alone in a cave as was the Book of Mormon. Only the Torah is emet ve'yatziv, truthful and certain, given "in the sight of all Israel" (Deuteronomy 34:12)