Judah Halevi

The Kuzari, part II

God commanded cessation of work on the Sabbath and holy days, as well as in the culture of the soil, all this “as a remembrance of the exodus from Egypt” and “remembrance of the work of creation.” These two things belong together because they are the outcome of the absolute divine will, but not the result of accident or natural phenomena…. The observance of the Sabbath is itself an acknowledgement of His omnipotence and at the same time an acknowledgement of the creation by the divine word. He who observes the Sabbath because the work of creation was finished on it acknowledges the creation itself. He who believes in the creation believes in the Creator. He, however, who does not believe in it falls prey to doubts of God’s eternity and to doubts of the existence of the world’s Creator. The observance of the Sabbath is therefore nearer to God than monastic retirement and asceticism.

Judah Halevi (circa 1075–1141) is considered one of the greatest Hebrew poets and his verse remains a vital part of Hebrew culture — appearing in contemporary Jewish liturgy. A Spanish Jewish physician and philosopher, he moved to Israel shortly before his death. Considered his greatest philosophical work, The Kuzari is a dialogue divided into five parts in which a Jew engages a pagan to explain the rational basis of his faith.

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