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Faith Above Reason

Out of all human abilities, it appears that our intelligence is the most important and outstanding. Human intelligence is what drives human advancement and improves our quality of life. Human intelligence has led us to discoveries in every field, and it continues to advance, in health, security, productivity, in every field.

Intelligence seems to be what separates humans from the “lower animals.” A human is guided by his logic and thought processes, while an animal conducts itself solely based on instincts. Pure thought, analytical thought, is considered impossible for any creature other than a human being.

Many people hold up human logic and rationalism as the most powerful force on earth. People who are graced with an abundance of it are respected, even revered. Those unfortunates who come out on the lower end of the intelligence scale are regarded with pity at best, or outright contempt at worst.

* * *

The high regard we give to human intelligence and logic seems almost axiomatic. If logic says that a certain course of action is proper, then it is right and true, while if the case for it is not logically compelling, it is deemed incorrect, improper. Someone who follows a lifestyle that is not backed up by rationality is considered strange; mentally ill, even. Someone who believes in phenomena that are not proven by logic is considered to be an imbecile. Human logic has such a revered place in our collective mindset that its reign is absolute, and to oppose it is sheer insanity.

However, as possessors of human intellect we must remember that intelligence is just one ability that has been granted to us as a gift from G-d. Yes, it is a great and powerful gift, but nothing more. Like all our other abilities, it is limited. There also exist supra-rational truths, which G-d has deliberately withheld from our grasp.

Intelligence is not the only means of assessing reality; there are other senses as well which in some cases are more refined and can detect what we cannot detect with intelligence alone. An example of this is the tsunami of 2004. The animals in the area detected the approaching tsunami and sought high ground, while the humans, the most intelligent of all, were oblivious to the approaching disaster and continued to frolic in the waves until the tsunami came crashing down upon them.

One gift that G-d has given us, a power even greater than intelligence, is our capacity for faith. Faith is not the same as folly. It helps us to detect truths that are beyond human understanding, G-dly truths that are too lofty to descend into the framework of human logic.

* * *

An example of this is the thirteen principles of the Jewish faith, codified by Maimonides, which define fundamentals such as the belief in the eternity of G-d and His Torah, and the belief in the future Redemption. Thirteen truths, which the brain is unable to grasp on its own and therefore attempts to refute them.

In addition to our formidable intellectual gifts, we are also given the power of faith. This elevates us above the limitations of intellect. Through using this power, we will quickly come to experience the most sublime reality of all—the true and complete Redemption, with the revelation of Moshiach.

 

 


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