Monday, July 10, 2006

Emunah

One cannot claim that he has Emunah because he "just knows". If you "just know" how do you know that your knowledge is truth and not a mistake?

Since you have no reason for your "knowledge" then you have no way to know that the knowledge is true.

That's not Emunah - that’s a safek. Because Emunah is not to "know" it’s to know that something is true. And even if you will say that you can just "know" something, you certainly cannot know that that something is true.

Emunah Peshutah doesn't mean you "just know". Because how do you know what to have Emunah Peshutah in? And how do you know that what you believe in is true? You don't, and that's not Emunah at all.

Although it is true that an atheist's heart has to be ignored, the question remains that if you must say that the atheist's heart lies, then hearts aren’t always reliable. That being the case, how do you know your heart is telling the truth?

Emunah Peshutah does not mean to believe for no reason. That makes no sense. If there's no reason for the belief then it's not belief - it's wishful thinking, and/or doubt. Remember: That type of believer can never answer the question: How do you know what you believe is true?

Emunah Peshutah means to believe because of the proof of Mesorah, or because of simple obvious reasons - as opposed to philosophical proofs. But there are reasons nonetheless. Even the Kuzari, who believes in Emunah Peshutah, agrees that the Halachah is that you have to KNOW for a fact that your Emunah is truth and not falsehood.

What I am saying is indeed universally held. Proof from tradition is indeed proof - it's not as if you're saying "I believe for no reason". Rather, you're saying I believe because of the millions of witnesses that saw it, and that proves it's true - that is what the Chinuch says (it's in the hakdama).

Convincing yourself by saying you believe is an exercise to remove the Yetzer Horah that tries to convince you that you shouldn't. But it doesn't say anywhere that that is the sole reason you believe - it chas vsholom doesn’t say that the reason you believe is because you talked it into yourself for no reason. And natural "belief" is not enough of belief to fulfill what the Torah requires. The Torah says "Vyadatah hayom ... ki Hashem hu haElokim" - and you shall KNOW that Hashem is G-d. If you were to ask these "natural believers" how they know their belief is true, they will not be able to answer. Which means they don't know it's true.
When the chinuch says the mitzvah of emunah does not need a biur he is saying that the reason the Torah gave us the mitzvah of emunah, or more exact, the purpose of the mitzvah of emunah, needs no explanation - it’s pretty obvious why the Torah tells us to believe in Hashem.

He also does not say that a person fulfills the mitzva by saying he believes. He has to actually believe!

And everybody agrees that that means at the very least to accept as factually reliable the eyewitness testimony handed down by those who accepted the Torah, which is the reason that you believe.

But belief without any reason, and certainly only lip-service belief is bogus and does not get you any mitzvah at all.

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Feeling is not believing. It's like saying "I believe that Christopher Columbus discovered America because I can feel it". Even if you do "feel" it, that's still neither Emunah nor Yediah.

Remember - the criterion for belief (besides Anochi Hashem) is veyatem hayom behashevosam el levavechah ki hashem hu haelokim!

You must know that Hashem in G-d!

Perhaps it is enough to know due to historical record (i.e. tradition) and perhaps it is not, but everybody agrees, that (a) you have to know, somehow, that Hashem is G-d, and (b) the more you know it, the stronger and better your Emunah is.

The Rambam states that if you have any doubts about the Ikarim you’re a Kofer, and that there is no such thing as saying I believe but I don't know why I believe. Belief is intellectual, not emotional, so even if it is without absolute proof, there still has to be a logical reason to believe, even if that reason is that you accept the word of your father, who accepts the word of his father, etc.

See also the Siach Yitzchok in the Sidur HaGra on the phrase "baal din kasha" (bain she'aino ben bris), where he mentions the converse - that since Emunah is intellectual, it makes no sense to say, like some people do (i.e. the "baal idn kasheh") that they need to "feel" their Emunah before they can accept it as fact.

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Yediah means to "know" for a fact, not just mouth a "belief". You get this by studying the proofs to G-d's existence and learning Torah until you realize that it is a fact beyond a doubt, not merely a "belief", that Hashem exists.
You have to live it, not only know it.
This means when you walk down the street you have to consciously think "Hashem is here with me" and act accordingly.
That’s "Shivisi Hashem lnegdi tamid."
Imagine walking down the street with Hashem right next to you! You "talk" to him by thinking thoughts to him, you are in the presence of the King of the Universe who is giving you His undivided attention!
Imagine that! Because it's actually true.
Live like that for a while and you'll see how quickly you "feel" Hashem's existence

Emunah means you believe in Hashem; Bitchon means you trust Him and rely on Him.

Two different things. I can believe you exist (Emunah) but that doesn’t mean that I think you are always taking care of me, and that anything that happens to me was the best for me because you said so.

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The quality of answers should not be judged by whether they satisfy you; they should be judged on whether they are true or not. This is because the things it takes to satisfy someone with an answer often goes beyond the answer being logically unassailable. People's negiyos, stubbornness, intellectual laziness or dishonesty, and various vested interests can prevent a totally legitimate and correct answer from "satisfying" someone. If you someone with such negiyos why he does not like the answer, he will not give a logical refutation to the answer. Instead he will say "I’m not SATISFIED." Or: "I’m not convinced."

Instead of making sure the answer satisfies you, you should instead make sure the answer is true. If so, then the answer was successful. Holding an answer responsible for satisfying you is unfair and dishonest, since you are the one who is responsible to be satisfied with a true answer.

If you have a reason the answer is wrong, then fine; but if the reasoning of the answer is correct, and you have no reason to assert the answer is wrong, then you should accept it.

There is a difference between convincing someone of something and proving it to them. Recently I was informed of a disturbing incident that took place in a frum girls High School. A speaker, who is not a Maamin, offered the students "a million dollars" to anyone who can convince him there is a G-d. The girl who told me the story asked me what she should have done in the face of such a challenge.

What the students should have done is asked this man if he is willing to give them the million dollars if they PROVE the existence of G-d to them, even if he is not CONVINCED. Meaning, if they will demonstrate to him with irrefutable arguments that G-d exists. If he cannot refute their arguments, he owes them a million dollars.

They should have asked him, "If we prove to you that G-d exists, will you be convinced?"

If he says no, then his game is exposed for what it is; if he says yes, the girls then could have made a million dollars.

But by conditioning the reward on his being convinced, he is not bound to choosing a position based on logic or reason, but based on whatever combination of desires and vested interest of his are satisfied to the point of his WANTING to believe there is a G-d.

We believe in G-d not because we WANT to but because it's a FACT.

Unfortunately - and I have said this many times on the site - you can’t always convince someone of something by proving it to them. if someone demands you prove something to them, that’s a challenge; if they demand you convince them, that’s a game.

As I have said many times when people ask me how to win an argument --- if you want to win an argument, make sure before you start arguing that you have chosen to argue for the correct side.

Not because that side suits you better; not because it makes you feel better; not for any other reason then that side is correct.

Ruthless objectivity is the most important tool in finding the truth.

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