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According to the answers to the question "How do we know that God exists" it seems some (if not most) religious Jews believe there is no way to verify whether or not God even exists.

If this view is correct, how can God expect people to view religious service as a duty and be subject to punishment in the afterlife for failing to live up to it.

After all, there is no way to even know whether He even exists. Are we expected to be religious out of doubt? How can we be expected to devote ourselves 100% to that which we cannot be sure even exists?

(I'm not asking for open miracles which would nullify free will, but at least some kind of philosophical proof which could be more dismissed with some faulty logic.)

(note that I personally disagree with this view, but I am asking according to it.)

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a jew is supposed to be totally devoted to God, to the point of being willing to give up his life for his faith. How can this be expected if according to the above, we cannot even be sure that God even exists –  ray Jan 19 at 18:57
    
@BabySeal Presumably yes, there are. Consider things like Pascal's Wager or just Orthopraxy in general from some sort of cultural or communal perspective. You don't need to understand or agree with them to accept they exist. –  Double AA Jan 19 at 21:28
    
@ray Can you explain why philosophical proofs won't nullify free will, while miracle based proofs would? That seems to be an important premise of your question. –  Double AA Jan 19 at 21:33
    
@DoubleAA because philosophical proofs can be brushed off with faulty logic. it's not like you can demonstrate it with hard evidence as in gravity for example. there's room for one who wants to err, to dismiss the proof. just look at the insanity of the claims against israel for example. –  ray Jan 19 at 21:36
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2 Answers 2

Nahmanides in his commentary on Deuteronomy 4:9, regarding the transmition of the divine revelation at Sinai:

And the purpose of this commandment is very great, because if the words of the Torah came to us from the mouth of Moses alone, even though his prophecy rang true through signs and wonders, if a prophet arose amongst us or a dreamer of dreams and would command us opposite of the Law and gave us a sign or wonder, doubt would enter the hearts of the people. But when the Torah reached us from the mouth of The Might to our very ears, and it is our eyes that see there is no intermediary, we will disregard any dissenter and any doubter, and find him to be false. And no sign will help him and no wonder will save him from death by our hands, for we know his lies.

This is what it means when it says 'And also in you (Moses) they will forever believe', because when we tell our children what we saw, they will know that the matter was true without a doubt, as if all generations had seen it, for we would not testify falsely to our children and we would not bequeath nonsense that has no purpose. And they will have no doubts in our testimony, rather they will certainly believe that we all saw it with our eyes, and all that we told them...

So while this is certainly not a logical proof, it is one that relies on something that has in the majority of cases always existed in humanity: a parent's love for their child. So we trust our parents about what happened at Sinai, who trusted their parents, who trusted theirs, etc... who trusted their parents who were physically present at Sinai and who personally experienced the absolute existence of Gd, along with the rest of an entire nation, which could have been upwards of 3 million people, with no middle man.

Yes there have been breaks in the chain in many individual family trees, but for every family generation that was lost, thousands more were maintained. Thus, as a nation unit, we span the gap. Like a screen door, that can have holes in many places and still stretch the length of the frame.

This parent-child lattice, spaning generations of families that began with a nationwide revelation would thus convey the authority, the duty, and the covenant of the Jewish Religion, and all that it implies.

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parents can be mistaken. my point is that how can God expect us to believe in Him and trust in Him 100% according to the view that we cannot be sure 100% that He even exists. what, just to make your parents happy? –  ray Jan 20 at 10:57
    
have you read ch.2 in the shaar yichud? he talks about this and compares it to a chain of blind men each following the next with one seeing man at the top, etc. –  ray Jan 20 at 11:29
    
@ray Nahmanides claims the opposite. He quite clearly says that this process results in all generations effectively experiencing Sinai with their own eyes, a chain of seeing men! Rabbeinu Bahya's process is not the only process. Others may be inferior or less thorough in your eyes, but they work. If I'm not mistaken you even said that when faced with flaws in R"B's logic, we must still believe that his process is sound and that some other error was made by us. Why? Can't R"B make a mistake like you claim parents dating back to Tanaaim and Prophets could? It always boils down to belief. –  Baby Seal Jan 20 at 19:34
    
R"B is talking about individual families not the jewish people as a whole. he says it is possible that one of those parents in the link will fail. we can see this indeed happened with jews whose parents followed saducees or karaites, christians, etc. and their descendants went along blindly. Also, I never claimed he is right about everything. only that we should not dismiss what he says just because it seems wrong to us. we should consider that perhaps we are missing something. –  ray Jan 20 at 20:13
    
@ray I would argue that where an individual parent or family breaks the chain, 1000s uphold it and bind it together. The chain binds us as a nation. The chain is made up of parent-child mesorah, but it is every parent-child mesorah. –  Baby Seal Jan 20 at 22:12
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In the Book the Kuzari the story goes like this: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/kuzari.html

  1. The Rabbi replied: I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, who led the children of Israel out of Egypt with signs and miracles; who fed them in the desert and gave them the land, after having made them traverse the sea and the Jordan in a miraculous way; who sent Moses with His law, and subsequently thousands of prophets, who confirmed His law by promises to the observant. and threats to the disobedient. Our belief is comprised in the Torah -- a very large domain.

  2. (The Kuzar King replied:) I had not intended to ask any Jew, because I am aware of their reduced condition and narrow-minded views, as their misery left them nothing commendable. Now shouldst thou, O Jew, not have said that thou believest in the Creator of the world, its Governor and Guide, and in Him who created and keeps thee, and such attributes which serve as evidence for every believer, and for the sake of which Re pursues justice in order to resemble the Creator in His wisdom and justice?

  3. The Rabbi: That which thou dost express is religion based on speculation and system, the research of thought, but open to many doubts. Now ask the philosophers, and thou wilt find that they do not agree on one action or one principle, since some doctrines can be established by arguments, which are only partially satisfactory, and still much less capable of being proved.

Being religious is not dependent on the existence of Gd, but rather on Gd's interaction with the Jewish people. (I.e. the difference between Gd who created the universe, and the Gd of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, who took us out of Egypt.. a historical reality whether you believe in it or not.)

You can philosophize and argue about whether Gd exists, and attribute the history of the Jewish people to some other label if you really want to, but that history is there and self evident.

This is emphasized in the first Commandment:

"“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." (Exodus 20:2)

Today, we are blessed with the Jewish exiles gathered into Israel, which previous generations did not have laid out so clearly before them.

Devarim (30:3)

3 that then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the peoples, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.4 If any of thine that are dispersed be in the uttermost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will He fetch thee. And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and He will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.

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