Logic Leading to Faith or Faith Leading to Logic?

Today 12 Tammuz (July 11, 2022 ) is the birthday of the Rebbe, R. Yosef Yitzchak, in 5640 (1880). On this day, in 5687 (1927), he received the good tidings that he was freed from (initially being sentenced to death) the exile imposed upon him after his arrest and imprisonment for his efforts in strengthening Torah and Judaism.

Once, Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber was walking with his son, Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchak, in the city of Rostov, Russia, teaching him a profound concept of mysticism. The son was so deep in thought that he kept walking, even while his father stopped for a moment. Only after being called by his name did he become aware and return to where his father was standing.

The father then told his son, “The difference between ( starting with the approach of ) a rational human mind and (starting with the approach of) a Godly mind is that a regular human mind starts first by applying itself, and then, realizing that it is not humanly possible to understand everything, finally turns to faith. A Godly mind begins with faith, and then, to personally connect and consciously own this faith, turns to personal understanding.”

This occurred in front of a building that later became the feared GPU’s headquarters. Years later, Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchok was incarcerated for teaching Judaism and was sentenced to death. During his interrogation in this building, he told his interrogators what he had heard from his father at that place years earlier.

Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchok now understood why his father told him those words of strength at this spot. Let me explain those words.

Both the Godly approach and the rational approach include a combination of faith and rational thought. In the former, faith leads to the rational and personal connection, while in the latter, rational thinking leads to faith. So, just how different is one approach from the other?

The use of a rational mind fits into the category of the “created” things we use and leverage in this world, while the Godly approach, in which faith is the starting point, is a connection (based and founded right from the start) with a force higher than the “created” and is, therefore, closer and more like the category of “Creator.” This is the ultimate goal of each person — “and (when) you are connected to God your God, you are all alive eternally.”

When a person first applies a logical approach and only afterward, when he recognizes the limitations of his mind, turns to the faculty of faith, his faith will always be limited by logic. This is because the foundation of his faith is in his mind; logic is the source of his faith.

Furthermore, since logic can always be argued against, the moment anyone comes up with an argument against his logic, out goes his faith. Since faith is an outgrowth sitting upon his logic, it will always rely on the parameters and strength of his logic and reasoning.

When however our first approach to life is an unwavering faith in a God who is, in essence, a benevolent and wise God — who made the world and all the circumstances we face — I know then, with a conviction beyond the scope of rational thought that He certainly has a good and positive purpose for everything He does and gave me the strength to withstand anything. 

This faith-first approach is unlimited, wide, deep, and broad in expanse, for it supersedes logic and rational thinking. The thinking that comes after faith, is infused and defined with this faith and far stronger than the first perspective.

This is why Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchok repeated this concept to his interrogators. He wanted them to know they were dealing with someone infused in his logic with a supra-rational faith. Just like it is impossible to imprison God and spirituality, for God is bigger than any force here in this world, Rabbi YY Schneerson was conveying that sentencing the Rabbi would not accomplish their goal of stopping the spread of Judaism in Russia at that time.

Chapter 106

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" Rabbi Ezagui opened in 1987 the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the Island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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