Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Prophet: A Breed Apart


"Habr: Logically, the intellect sets the speaking being above all other living things, mandating that he develop an improved character, home and nation, and act rationally… And what level would you expect to be above this?

"King: The level of great sages?

"Habr: I am referring to a level which separates its holder qualitatively, like the difference between plant and mineral… This is the level of the indisputable prophet, via whom the masses can perceive the joining of G-d with humanity…"

(Rabbi Yehudah haLevi, Kuzari 1:35-43)

Have a great day,


  1. Is the sage denying the king's answer altogether, insisting that wisdom isn't a step toward prophecy? Or is he saying the king is right, but aiming lower than the sage's question was driving at?

    The first way of understanding the Kuzari would be a disagreement with the Rambam, the second way would not.

  2. R' Micha-
    As I understand it, this is an example of Kuzari's general philosophy of rejecting wisdom in favour of the religious experience. He values wisdom as important for Torah, and he specifies that Torah is crucial in order to reach religious experience, but that's where the utility of wisdom ends.
    And yes, Rambam would disagree with this.

    1. I would have assumed as you did. I even wonder if the Kuzari was written to be an anti-Scholastic response to R' Saadia Gaon. Notice how the Kuzari argues for basing emunah on Revelation rather than Creation and first principles (to borrow Rozensweig's names for R' Albo's iqarim).

      However, the chaveir doesn't dismiss the link between knowledge and prophecy here, he did so earlier, in 1:4.

      Aslo, here he says that the navi is the qualitatively different being, and in fact has a qualitatively different universe with miracles. In 1:115 he says Yehudim ezrachim are the qualitatively different species, because we alone possess the ability to become nevi'im (barring living in Israel). I don't know how he addresses Bil'am and Ovadiah (neither of whom prophecied in Israel, so 2:14 doesn't apply, although I think that's only pre-Sinai anyway).