What method(s) of reasoning did Abraham use to discover HaShem's existence and that he is Adon Olam? I'm wondering about particular methods.

[1] http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/434682/jewish/The-Abraham-Principle.htm [2] http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/2612/jewish/The-History-of-Monotheism.htm

  • Related (duplicate?): judaism.stackexchange.com/q/29693/472 Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:06
  • @MonicaCellio There seems to be some overlap, but that's asking about events, I'm asking about methods . . . Induction? Deduction? Proof by contradiction? Proof by contrapositive? I'm not wondering if Avraham went to a field to meditate when he was a child. I'm asking what specifically was his meditative process.
    – הראל
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:30
  • Ah, ok! Not a dupe, then. Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:35
  • the answer there mentions deduction.
    – rosends
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:35
  • 2
    I can't speak for anyone else, but the way the chabad site tells the story, Abe started with the premise that the Sun was the god-power, but then it set so he deduced that it was not the god power. The same happened with the moon as god-power. Repeat. So you end with "all observed things are not the ultimate creative power" and "all seen things must have been created by a creative power" moving to "one unseen thing must have made all observable powers". I guess. I failed logic in college.
    – rosends
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 16:45

3 Answers 3


the shaar yichud of chovos halevavos has a systematic logical inquiry into this subject. the manoach halevavos commentary says in ch.10 "the truly wise have a single, common viewpoint, and all of them grasp exactly the same matter with only these few hints, according to what is fitting and possible for them, because the false and erroneous ways are numerous but there is only one way of truth."

the shaar yichud has multiple approaches from logic and also from the wisdom and interconnection of nature. they all lead to same conclusion. Avraham probably also considered all evidence including wisdom in nature, inquiry into the Unity, etc.


The Rambam describes his method as being essentially Occam's Razor:

התחיל לחשוב ביום ובלילה והיה תמיה היאך אפשר שיהיה הגלגל הזה נוהג תמיד ולא יהיה לו מנהיג ומי יסבב אותו כי אי אפשר שיסבב את עצמו

"He began to think day and night, and he was in wonder: How is it possible that the world could run itself and there wouldn't be someone controlling it? Who is making the world go round? Could it be possible that it runs itself?"

Indeed, the Midrash gives a more specific scenario where he would use the same method of logic.

  • Your translation is too politically correct, at least wright it is refuring to the rotation of the orbits since the stars(planets) can not rotate themselves someone must be rotating them
    – hazoriz
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 17:20
  • @hazoriz That is what his translation says...
    – Daniel
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 17:23
  • This is an interesting idea from the Rambam. In Abraham's time, this was indeed the simplest explanation for the world working, but nowadays many of the same questions have scientific answers which require fewer assumptions. If Rambam's explanation of Avraham's thinking were correct, perhaps Avraham would not have believed in God had he lived in a scientific time. I present this not as a challenge to you, Chaim, since your presentation does indeed seem to be representative of the Rambam, but rather as a challenge to the Rambam himself.
    – Daniel
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 17:27
  • @Daniel Whos translation? Alternative translation After this mighty man was weaned, he began to explore and think. Though he was a child, he began to think [incessantly] throughout the day and night, wondering: How is it possible for the sphere to continue to revolve without having anyone controlling it? Who is causing it to revolve? Surely, it does not cause itself to revolve., source halocho 3
    – hazoriz
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 17:29
  • 3
    I don't see how that is Occam's razor.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 6, 2016 at 18:26

From a Torah perspective, he didn't need to discover the answer, he just needed to un-learn the un-answer given by his parents et al.

According to Rav Hutner, he did this by extrapolating the middas ha'chesed he found within himself to its source.

I.e. he discovered ha'adam nivra be'tzelem, and he found the nimshal of the mashal of his own life.

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