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Kuzari: A Response to Dovid Gottlieb, David Greenberg, and Meir Goldberg

05 Feb
This email was written in response to somebody who sent me Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb’s attempted refutation of the Mexica migration as a mass revelation counterexample to the Kuzari Principle. Rabbi Gottlieb’s post relied heavily on quotes sent to him by one David Greenberg. Since then, Rabbi Meir Goldberg has cited Rabbi Gottlieb’s article as fact on his kiruv website, claiming that “the Aztec national revelation was relayed to the people by a few priests” so I thought I would publicize my email for those who might find it of interest.
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Dear [Name Redacted],

Thank you for sending this to me. I apologize for not getting it till now. This is no longer my main email so I only check it every few days.

Rabbi Gottlieb tells us that “this is a story placed so far in the past that no information survives from that time.” But the Mexica migration happened in the 14th century and I am aware of no sources claiming it happened before the alleged giving of Torah at Sinai. With due respect, in pursuit of a narrative which he prima facie wishes to adopt, the rabbi has lost coherence and forgotten the principles of logic he claims to be marshaling for his argument. (This isn’t an argument against Kuzari in particular, but it is at least interesting to note that this loss of coherence in pursuit of an a priori narrative is an old pattern in Rabbi Gottlieb’s writing which goes back to his days at Johns Hopkins. See e.g. TS Weston’s 1982 review of his book Ontological Economy).

Let’s look now at David Greenberg’s quotes, which at least prima facie constitute an argument against the Aztec myth being a counterargument to the Kuzari Principle. I commend Mr. Greenberg’s willingness to navigate Google Books to look into the questions at hand, but I’m afraid he’s misunderstood the argument. For example, he quotes p. 32 of the Handbook to Life in the Aztec World as discussing divine messages given by the priests, but nobody is using those as counterarguments to Kuzari. Indeed, in my essay, I explicitly noted that “through his priests, [the] deity led the Aztecs on a migratory journey.” The trouble for our apologist friends is that prophecies are fulfilled via miracles which are indeed witnessed by the Aztec people. See for example p. 144 of the same book. It is interesting to me that Rabbi Gottlieb is apparently unaware of this fatal flaw in Mr. Greenberg’s argument.

In conclusion, I can certainly understand that faith in a religion one was raised with or one was indoctrinated with at a latter age is a powerful thing. I myself was once a baal teshuva who believed he came to religion through logic (and indeed, nobody mekarved me when I made that decision in the North Georgia mountains at 16). But as William Lane Craig or Dovid Gottlieb can marshal every similar proof in the world for their views — and they are similar — I submit that their reasons for actual belief are also similar. B’emunah shleimah, as they say.

Feel free to share this email with anybody you feel might assist you in your search for truth.

Sincerely,

Mark Pelta
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34 Comments

Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

34 responses to “Kuzari: A Response to Dovid Gottlieb, David Greenberg, and Meir Goldberg

  1. Meir Goldberg

    February 9, 2014 at 4:08 am

    Mark, I appreciate your attempt to use the Mexica as a counterargument to the Kuzari principle, but I think your example fails. Even if you contend that the masses of Aztec saw some white objects which were prophesied by priests, that is quite different than a claim of a mass divine revelation. For one thing, when this Aztec myth had been introduced, there is no reason why the people should reject it. They either understood it as a myth or had no problem letting the story be told, for there is no consequence to believing it. Furthermore, the legend doesn’t describe who saw it, just ‘the Aztecs.’ All of them? Some of them? All vague and easy to pull off.

    Contrast that to Sinai where there is motivation to deny it (a whole new set of radical and never before seen laws and rules), with a claim that the entire people saw G-d, etc. Also, there is a specific history – clear times, dates, names of leaders, numbers of people, places, etc. Nothing vague

     
    • Mark Pelta

      February 9, 2014 at 7:00 am

      Hi rabbi. I’m surprised you found this so quickly, considering that I didn’t even advertise this post outside of a facebook link. I just put it up for anybody googling kuzari. I hope all is well and I hope you’re enjoying your proselytizing work on campus. I see that you’ve followed my blog and I appreciate that, but I should warn you that this is probably the only Jewish post that’ll be here, as I will be going to Japan to teach next month and my blog will be focused on that experience.

      Seriatim:

      I think the Kuzari Principle is fallacious for the reasons I detailed at the beginning of my original post, but folks seem more fixated on the Aztec example as a possible refutation of Gottlieb’s criteria for Kuzari working; c’est la vie. I should clarify that I DO NOT in fact contend that the Aztecs actually saw what you describe as “some white objects” (what they maintained were “white reeds and rushes, and white frogs emerged, as well as white snakes and fish,”) but only that them allegedly seeing such things is part of their myth.

      My only point in putting up and honing in on that Aztec myth was to refute the criteria provided by Rabbi Gottlieb at the time for refuting his principle. The point you make that’s relevant to those criteria is that when it says “the Aztecs,” it perhaps doesn’t mean the Aztecs per se, but a portion of them. I’d respond that when Exodus 19.9 says God wants “the people” to hear him, it doesn’t strike me as any more specific. “The people” and “the Aztecs” strike me as similar.

      The Bible’s narratives of times, dates, etc., if taken as literal and specific (even if just on Sinai), are rather explicitly contradicted by the record of what we know. I wouldn’t ask our readers to believe an irreligious guy like me on such matters, but they can verify such things with rabbis who are intensely interested in championing Jewish theology who’ve looked into these matters from an academic (as opposed to kiruv) standpoint like David Wolpe or Zev Farber. One can of course have faith based on Gottlieb’s kiruv work that the universe is about 6000 years old and the scientific evidence just all looks very different than Torah Facts. I personally think that’s rather untenable. We also have to remember that your tradition is Orthodox, not Karaite, so once the rabbinic traditions are factored in, the record is not as specific as some would like to claim. For example, who wrote the end of Deuteronomy? Say Moses, and you’ve contradicted the ibn Ezra. Could be you hold the ibn Ezra is wrong, but what is clear is that this wasn’t a clear-cut mesorah that all traditional Jews from the Pharisaic tradition have always believed.

      As for the motivation to deny the Aztec myth, what if some of the Aztecs didn’t want to follow the guys in charge of talking to their gods? We’re talking about old societies, authority meant a hell of a lot of power. People unified under certain leaders but when dissuaded also devolved into factions (e.g. Sadducees, Pharisees, and Essenes). But I think going into this more deeply goes outside of Rabbi Gottlieb’s original criteria for debunking Kuzari, and into a whole new can of worms that I’m frankly uninterested in (because this is not a popular argument). But you have a blog where you can promote whatever kiruv ideas you’d like, so maybe it’s best placed there.

       
  2. Ed Mikre

    September 28, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    There wasn’t a mass divine revelation in the Torah. The people saw thunder and lightning, and were scared. But this wasn’t a mass revelation. If it was, then they were pretty fickle and unreliable, since 40 days later they wanted to build a golden calf. Can such a group of people be relied on?
    Also, Meir is mistaken when he says: “a whole new set of radical and never before seen laws and rules”
    it is true that the Torah says this, but many of the laws were already seen in previous secular gentile codes such as that of Hammurabi.
    So the problem is, if the Torah is telling the truth, it must have been altered since then. G-d forbid that the Torah was man made!

     
  3. Meir Goldberg

    October 3, 2014 at 4:06 am

    Actually Ed, Exodus 20, 24 and Deut 4 make it clear that there was a mass divine revelation and not just thunder an lightning. Your proof from the golden calf is a weak one, since the people weren’t looking for the calf to replace G-d, they wanted it to replace Moses who was supposed to have returned (and when he didn’t they decided to make the calf). This is the why the opening verse – Exodus 32;1 – in the section regarding the calf starts with, “When the people saw that Moses was late in coming down from the mountain, the people gathered against Aaron, and they said to him: “Come on! Make us gods that will go before us, because this man Moses, who brought us up from the land of Egypt we don’t know what has become of him.” The notion that the Torah is similar to Hammurabi’s code is nonsense. See http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_yitro.html

     
    • Ed Mikre

      October 26, 2014 at 10:53 pm

      Actually Meir, Ex 20 says that “14 And all the people perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off.” SO here, the people themselves did not hear God’s voice.
      Incidentally, the same chapter refutes your other point:
      3 Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
      Had the people, and it was the people, really had a Divine revelation, it did not really embed itself in their memory.
      Ex 24 says the opposite of what you claim. “3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said: ‘All the words which the LORD hath spoken will we do.’ ”
      Moses told them what he heard, If they had heard it already, then he would simply be repeating it.
      It was only 74 people who saw God – ” Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and there was under His feet the like of a paved work of sapphire stone, and the like of the very heaven for clearness. ”

      74 people is not a national revelation.
      You are correct about Deut 4, where it says “12 And the LORD spoke unto you out of the midst of the fire; ye heard the voice of words, but ye saw no form; only a voice. ” The skeptic will argue that this was written later, as it contradicts the account of Exodus. For go0lden calf, see the 2nd commandment. If they had really heard the 10 commandments in nevuah, why did they abrogate them?
      As for Hammurabi, the laws are not radically different from the Torah. Hertz does not say that Torah law is a radical departure from Hammurabi, but that several are identical, and many others are incrementally different. this refutes your own claim. The mere fact that Hammurabi does not come from G-d (although he was a god-king, ie had Daas Hammurabi) does not mean the laws inthe torah are brand new.

       
      • Ed Mikre

        October 27, 2014 at 11:16 pm

        further on Mass revelation – Deut 5: 5 “I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare unto you the word of the LORD; for ye were afraid because of the fire, and went not up into the mount–saying:”
        So the skeptic can say that there was not really a mass revelation. there was a revelation to Moses, who then acted, in his own words, as a go-between.
        This completely destroys the claim of a mass revelation, or the Kuzari argument.

         
  4. Ed Mikre

    October 26, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Also, why does Deut 4:12 say that you saw no form, whereas in Ex 24:10 it says that, at least the 74, did see a form, with legs? This is a very strange contradiction!!!

     
  5. Meir Goldberg

    October 31, 2014 at 4:32 am

    Ed, you quote Exodus 20 completely out of context. In Exodus 19:16 – 20, there are sounds and lightning and the sound of a shofar and Moses takes the people toward G-d. The mountain is smoking because of G-d and there is a loud shofar blast and G-d begins to speak. Clearly what is being described here is a divine experience. It is to this experience that Exodus 20 refers to when it says “And all the people perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the voice of the horn, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off.” It already described a divine witnessing.

    Re Exodus 24, perhaps you didn’t see verse 17 that states “The appearance of the Glory of Hashem was like a consuming fire on the mountaintop before the eyes of the Children of Israel.”
    Not just 74 people.

    Your argument that they couldn’t have had a divine revelation because they subsequently broke the commandment not to worship idols/golden calf, is ridiculous. So if your mother tells you not to text and drive and then you do, that means that she never told you that? A few thousand people among a population of millions broke the commandment. That doesn’t mean that they never received it.

    You clearly don’t understand the Kuzari proof. The proof is based on the fact that a mass revelation claim is the most powerful way to start a religion. If it was so easy to invent, then every religion would do it. Yet only one religion has the guts to start off that way – Judaism. Why? Because it is the only religion to actually have a mass revelation. Otherwise, why wouldn’t every religion try to create their faith with such a claim, the most powerful claim possible?

    All Deut 5:5 shows is that Moses relayed some of G-d’s word to the people. There are still numerous verses that indicate a mass divine revelation.

    So you only know about Hammurabi from Hertz and you want to claim that Torah copied it? C’mon, did you even bother to read the link that I sent you that rebuffs such nonsense?

     
    • Ed Mikre

      November 8, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      Actually Meir, you are trying to force your Kuzari interpretation of the event onto the Torah, and that is out of context. Yes, they saw fire, and lightning and heard the shofar. this scared them. the Torah does nto claim that this was a mass revelation ie nevuah. They were too scared and hence Moses had to stand as the middle man and teach them.
      Since you call your hypothesis a “proof” it does not make it a proof. The verse in Ex 27:17 speaks of a fire, it describes what might have been a volcanic fire.
      “A few thousand people among a population of millions broke the commandment. That doesn’t mean that they never received it. ” No, it describes the whole Am as having sinned. This Am was later killed off, and the enxt generation were to enter israel. In fact, God tells Moses that he will wipe out the whole people, and create a new nation from Moses. Why would this be done if only “A few thousand people among a population of millions broke the commandment”?

      Your argument would be stronger if you said the mass exodus and the parting of the red sea, since this is explicitly stated to have happened to the entire people. But mass revelation on sinai is not supported by the Torah’s own narrative. it was a revelation to Moses, who was then relaying the law to the people. the people were stiffnecked and of arbitrary hearts, and so they had a preference for a golden calf. Even Aaron got caught up in this, and that is why he did not see Israel either.

       
      • Meir Goldberg

        November 10, 2014 at 4:42 am

        I’m not sure what you are quoting from Exodus 27:17. Your point seems to be that there is never a claim that the people saw G-d. Well there is a very good reason for that – you cannot see G-d since you can’t see and define an infinite being, or else He wouldn’t be infinite. Clearly, no matter how you try to wiggle out of it, there is divine revelation. It is supported by Deut 4 which explains what happened.

        The reason that the whole nation was responsible for the calf is because the nation sets a tone for each other. If the nation set a tone of no tolerance for any variation of idolatry, then perhaps the few wouldn’t have made the calf.

         
  6. Ed Mikre

    November 8, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    If in fact, Meir, there was “mass revelation”, why does the Torah use the familiar narrative “And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: ‘Speak unto the children of Israel,…” all the time? God did not speak to the people directly. Show me where the torah states that God spoke directly to the people.

     
    • Meir Goldberg

      November 10, 2014 at 4:45 am

      Deuteronomy 4:33

       
      • Ed Mikre

        December 7, 2014 at 10:02 pm

        sorry, was an error, U meant Ex 20:17
        In Ex 24 , it says”2 and Moses alone shall come near unto the LORD; but they shall not come near; neither shall the people go up with him.’ 3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said: ‘All the words which the LORD hath spoken will we do.’
        7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the hearing of the people; and they said: ‘All that the LORD hath spoken will we do, and obey.’

        You are also mistaken, dear meir, when you claim “you cannot see G-d since you can’t see and define an infinite being, or else He wouldn’t be infinite”
        Becasue in the Torah, there were 74 people who did see, at some level, God: 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and there was under His feet the like of a paved work of sapphire stone, and the like of the very heaven for clearness.
        This was not seen by 2.5 million at the bottom of the mount. They were too busy building their golden calf.
        In any case, this claim, written in the Torah, is that the masses did not see or hear god actually speak. the skeptics woudl argue that the language Moses uses in Deuteronomy is differnt from Exodus, since it is not dictated by God. The ramban holds that Moses wrote Devarim, the apikorsim (bible critics) hold that it was written later. In any case, there is a contradiction, and Deut was written year after the event, and written in human language.

         
  7. Ed Mikre

    November 9, 2014 at 12:35 am

    “Otherwise, why wouldn’t every religion try to create their faith with such a claim, the most powerful claim possible?”

    As a skeptic, the only claim here is that the masses saw fire and clouds. The same impressionable masses also built a golden calf and worshipped it. There are many counter claims to what you are presenting as a “proof”. Do you really base your religious emunah on the claims made by R Gottlieb?
    Your whole point here is a logical fallacy, known as “begging the question”. How other religions start and what their claims are do not prove Judaism. And the alleged mass revelation is also not a proof. We have one prophet called Moses who actually had the revelation. Unfortunately, there has not been prophecy for 2500 years. Nor has there been a King in Israel.

     
    • Meir Goldberg

      November 10, 2014 at 4:49 am

      You haven’t answered the question. There most definitely is a claim of divine revelation in Exodus and Deut 4, and Judaism is the only religion so bold to make the claim. Why not everyone else make this claim, the most powerful claim possible, if it is so easy to pull off? Stop avoiding the question.
      There are many more pieces of evidence which show the divine nature of Torah, see http://truetorah.blogspot.com/
      The Kuzari proof is one piece of evidence (not proof) among many.

       
      • Ed Mikre

        December 7, 2014 at 10:07 pm

        Yes, there is claim, but the claim in itself is not proof. In any case, the claim in Exodus is that God spoke to Moses alone, and then he spoke to the people.
        You are also mistaken about the golden calf: It was the entire population who were involved in this: Ex 32: 3 And all the people broke off the golden rings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
        4 And he received it at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it a molten calf; and they said: ‘This is thy god, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.’

        The kuzari fallacy is saying that a mass religious experience is true, hence it verifies the truht of the Golden calf
        http://tanakhemet.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/the-kuzari-fallacy.html

        this is typical of your friend Gottlieb and his twisted perversion of truth and logic.

         
      • Ed Mikre

        December 7, 2014 at 10:40 pm

        “Exodus 24, perhaps you didn’t see verse 17 that states “The appearance of the Glory of Hashem was like a consuming fire on the mountaintop before the eyes of the Children of Israel.”
        Not just 74 people. ”
        Actually this verse simply says that to the people it was just a fire that they perceived. it was only Moses (and the 73 elders) who perceived God in it.

        “The Kuzari proof is one piece of evidence (not proof) among many.”
        Well at least you accept that it is not proof. But the point that I (and others ) make is that it is not evidence either. it is a fallacious, circular argument. It does n to have independent evidence, and it is presupposed on logical fallacies concocted by a crazy extremist BT rabbi who knew a bit of philosophy.

         
  8. Ed Mikre

    November 9, 2014 at 9:45 am

    “So you only know about Hammurabi from Hertz “. So you only know about hammurabi from the Aishdas link you left? And your “scholarship” is such that any link you produce from a rabbinical colleague) is “proof”. No, this is not scholarship, but simple faith. The article is nonsense. “Loan words” alone is not an argument. how about loan concepts? many of the Torah laws are direct evolutions from the Hammurabi code. An example is the sotah ceremony. In hammurabi’s code, the test or ordeal would be to throw the suspected adulteress into the river. In the Torah, she drinks from the potion. Her survival , in both cases, determines her innocence. these are developments from hammurabi source, whether we like it or not.

     
  9. Ed Mikre

    November 9, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Regarding “revelations”, in the NT. Matthew reports, that he and other chossidim of Yashke saw JC go up on the mountain, and then saw Moses and Elijah talking to Yashke. Isn’t that amazing? The Kuzari argument, therefore, also proves Christianity to be true! mazeltov Rabbi Gottlieb!
    http://biblehub.com/matthew/17.htm

     
  10. Ed Mikre

    December 7, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    I hate to say this, since I am a believer myself. but the torah says the following: Ex 19
    9 And the LORD said unto Moses: ‘Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and may also believe thee for ever.’ And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD.

    Now the Hebrew actually says something else: בַּעֲבוּר יִשְׁמַע הָעָם בְּדַבְּרִי עִמָּךְ
    this means, so that the people will heed what I say to you – ie that when Moses tells them, they will accept it.

    tragically, the people did not believe in Moses forever, but within a few days, they built a golden calf and said that it was the calf that took them out of egypt!

    The only way we can believe in the torah is through faith. when Nevua is restored, we will have better knowledge. Kuzari type arguments are geneivas daat.

     
  11. Israel Oz

    December 9, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I’m not clear as to why people think it’s necessary to show another example of mass revelation to prove this idea is untenable. Human history is so short, the illogic of the Kuzari principle stands on its own. History is replete with made up narratives that the masses accept. Add to that the numbers of people that buy into conspiracies and it’s a no-brainer that a mass revelation story could have been made up. Especially so in an era, which our meforshim admit, was full of numerical exaggeration.

     
    • Ed Mikre

      December 10, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      Israel, I quite agree with you. The proprietor of the KP begs the question, and says that since there are no such examples, then the KP must therefore be true. This is logically fallacious in itself, However, I wanted to add that that the Torah itself gives clear examples of mass beliefs in “false” events, concepts etc. When they say about the Golden calf, that “Israel, this is the god that took us out of Egypt” it says it all, about the mesit rabbis who claim they are somehow religious guides.

       
      • Meir Goldberg

        December 12, 2014 at 4:33 pm

        Ed, the comparison to the Golden Calf shows that you don’t understand the Kuzari Principle. In the Golden calf story there was no revelation. There was simply a choice among masses to ascribe some sort of power to the Golden Calf. (Clearly they never claimed to replace G-d with the Calf, rather they intended to replace the Moses with the calf. Which is why the entire story of the calf starts out with 32:1 that they are concerned with Moses delay. If this wasn’t the case, what does Moses delay have to do with anything??) There was no revelation. They chose to believe and have faith in something. All religions start that way. Which is why they are false.

        The uniqueness of the Kuzari Principle is in the fact that they claimed a mass witnessing of a divine event and not just faith. That is never claimed by anyone else

         
    • Meir Goldberg

      December 12, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      So then why do all religions and conspiracies base themselves on a belief of individuals and not masses seeing the thing themselves?

       
      • Ed Mikre

        December 13, 2014 at 6:25 pm

        Meir, your comments show that you do not understand hebrew, or the Torah. I am reproducing the English translation to Exodus 32:8
        8 they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed unto it, and said: This is thy god, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.’

        The worshipped and sacrificed to a false god. וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ-לוֹ, וַיִּזְבְּחוּ-לוֹ
        You wish to interpret the word Elohim as referring to a judge, but it also refers to a god.

        The Kuzari principle states that people will not believe a falsehood, especially if a mass of people accept this claim. This is precisely what happened with the golden calf. And the false belief evolved into an accepted belief.

        But Meir, you are being dishonest here, or perhaps you are too emotional to think logically.
        The debate here is not about whether actual events took place, it is about whether the Kuzari principle is a true principle to determine if events really took place . You are confusing your belief in Sinai with a historically proven fact, and your assumption is your conclusion, ie a circular argument.

        There is another flaw in the argument you bring: You are saying that the mass witnesses are reliable for seeing noises on Sinai, but their judgement is not reliable when it comes to the golden calf. These are the same people, the same masses, and whilst you claim their beliefs were perfectly viable on Sinai, yet 40 days later they are totally false. That is not a reliable verification.

        Here is further disproof of Kuzari:

        http://tanakhemet.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/kuzari-principle-is-false-admits-its.html

         
  12. Ed Mikre

    December 11, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    here is another take on the implications of the Kuzari fallacy: http://tanakhemet.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/shabbetai-zvi-rebbe-and-kuzari.html

     
    • Meir Goldberg

      December 12, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      Again, you completely missed the Kuzari Principle here. Rabbi Gottlieb never claimed that anything that the masses believe in must be true. You said that – he didn’t.

      What the Kuzari Principle is stating is that if the masses claim TO WITNESS SOMETHING WITH THEIR OWN EYES it must be true.
      That is the difference between Judaism and all other religions.

       
      • Ed Mikre

        December 13, 2014 at 9:04 pm

        “Again, you completely missed the Kuzari Principle here. Rabbi Gottlieb never claimed that anything that the masses believe in must be true. You said that – he didn’t. ”
        Sorry meir, but he did. On his own blog he says the following: “A false story of a national revelation that creates a national religion will not be believed…. Suppose a nation believes that its ancestors experienced a national revelation. Since such a story cannot be invented we have good reason to accept the story as true. For, if it were not true, it would not be believed!”

        Thus he accepts the truth of the golden calf, because if it were not true, it would not be believed. Since it was believed, then according to you and gottlieb, it was the golden calf that took the Israelites out of egypt.

         
  13. Ed Mikre

    December 13, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    @ Meir “What the Kuzari Principle is stating is that if the masses claim TO WITNESS SOMETHING WITH THEIR OWN EYES it must be true. That is the difference between Judaism and all other religions.”

    Meir, this is your interpretation of the KP. There are a number of flaws in this, as it applies to the Torah.
    a) The masses do not claim to have witnessed God, rather the Author of the Torah makes this claim. The Author according to religious Judaism, whether Rabbinical or Karaite, is Moses, and he was in turn instructed by God. If you already believe in that, then you don’t need a proof. If you are a skeptic or agnostic, then basing your argument on the premise that your assumption is true is simply a circular argument.

    However, going back to the golden calf, the masses say that the calf was the god that took them out of Egypt. This statement is just as valid under the KP as your claim that they witnessed the revelation on Sinai.

     
    • Meir Goldberg

      January 14, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      Ed, once again you misunderstand Rabbi Gottlieb. The Kuzari Proof states that you cannot convince a mass of people that they ‘saw’ something if indeed they didn’t. THAT is the KP.

      The Golden Calf taking Jews out of Egypt was not an experience or a sight. It was a theory espoused by some that it was a magical calf (or the powers related to it) that took them out of Egypt. Nobody claimed that the entire nation ‘saw’ the calf take them out of Egypt. Rather, it was a belief, much like all other religious beliefs. Obviously, you can get people to believe in anything (note – all religions). You just can’t get people to say that they saw something that they didn’t

       
    • Meir Goldberg

      January 14, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      @ Ed ‘Meir, this is your interpretation of the KP. There are a number of flaws in this, as it applies to the Torah.
      a) The masses do not claim to have witnessed God, rather the Author of the Torah makes this claim.’
      Ed, once again you miss the point. No other religion in history starts with a mass revelation claim because that cannot be faked. Only the Author of the Torah makes that claim. Nobody else. Why not? Shouldn’t all religions begin with a mass revelation claim instead of a private one man revelation? If it is so easy to write then everyone can make that claim. Yet only the Torah does….

       
  14. Ed Mikre

    December 16, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    A key distinction here is the retrospective versus prospective approach to verifying a matter. Since we live in the year 2014 CE, we are unable to look at contemporaneous evidence or to do a prospective analysis. The flawed kuzari principle is not only false for reasons presented above, it is also false because it is trying to do the impossible, ie a prospective study, but doing it retroactively. To simplify this, you are saying that the masses witnessed a divine event. let us just use the parting of a Red sea, since that was an event experienced by the masses. But we have a source, the Torah which tells us so. The people who were born after this event would not have seen it themselves. The skeptic will argue that there is no evidence the Torah was written down at that time, chas v’shalom. And they will also argue that it is entirely possible for a story like this to have been invented and then handed out to the national group, saying this is your history, so it was accepted. In order to refute the skeptic, you have to provide contemporaneous evidence, eg news reports, independent witness accounts etc. If you find Egyptian records confirming this, it would make life much easier.
    Furthermore, we also have no evidence that the Torah scroll in our synagogues today is the same one that existed when Moses wrote it. This is because the oldest manuscript or evidence is the LXX, or Septuagint, which is around 100-150 BCE. Perhaps the original Law of Moses was something different and was embellished over the years. you cannot prove its authenticity by saying there are a million copies of the artscroll in circulation!

     
    • Meir Goldberg

      January 14, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      Ed, according to you, all of ancient history if flawed, since we heavily rely on Manetho for Egyptian history. See the unreliability of Manetho an important ancient Egyptian historian, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manetho.

      We rely on Herotodus for Greek history It is on account of the many strange stories and the folk-tales he reported that his critics in early modern times branded him ‘The Father of Lies’” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herotodus
      Also see the following regarding ancient Egyptian history http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/

      Clearly, history is determined as reliable if logic and evidence deems it so. The KP is used as a logical device. It is logical to say that the Torah’s account if true due to the unlikelihood of it’s account being made up, since nobody else has the guts to fake a mass revelation. There is also a ton of evidence corroborating the Torah’s account of history: See the end of this post http://truetorah.blogspot.com/2012/05/part-1-archaeology.html

       

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