About Beyond Faith

 

 

Book Summary:

 

Do you belong to a religion? If so, why? Were you born into it? Did you marry into it? Did something happen to make you "see the light"? Or did you investigate several religions, compare them, and choose the one that provided the most evidence to back up its claims? Aaron Minsky contends, in his comprehensive new book Beyond Faith, that the world's religions "can and must" be compared and evaluated because they are in conflict with each other. Minsky states, " When one man's religion calls for the abolishment of another man's religion, only a rational assessment of the two competing systems can provide a logical answer as to which, if either, should survive." Minsky also looks into the claims of philosophy and science because these fields are also often in conflict with religion (or some religions).

 

On a trip to Israel Aaron questioned several Orthodox rabbis about their beliefs. He was surprised and impressed at how logical and reasonable their answers were. He came away realizing that "religion" did not have to be a set of beliefs accepted on faith; it could be a path through which to pursue knowledge. Indeed, it could be a way to move "beyond faith" and discover truth. Aaron Minsky takes the reader on a journey through a world of Jewish knowledge; knowledge that he believes is essential to world peace.

 

 

Central Topic and Main Themes:

 

The central topic of Beyond Faith is comparative religion. Specifically how traditional Judaism compares to Christianity, Islam, and other faiths. It also compares Judaism to philosophy and science.

Main themes:

 

  1. Logic and reason can and should be applied to the study of religion.
  2. Religions can and must be compared to ascertain which are more valid by the standards of logic and reason and which is the most valid by these standards.
  3. A rational investigation of the world's faiths is essential if we are to peacefully settle the multi-generational struggles over which religions, if any, are "true".
  4. Judaism is not a "religion" in the conventional sense, but a repository of ancient knowledge and wisdom; a system of thought that encourages questioning and free thinking.
  5. Judaism is replete with provable facts, unlike most religions which are almost entirely based on faith with little or no tangible proof to back up their claims.
  6. Acceptance of unproven doctrines by faith is not only found in religion but also in philosophy and science.
  7. One can come to follow Judaism through logic and reason, but logic and reason will lead one away from most other religions.
  8. Peace will not be possible until mankind moves "beyond faith" and starts to apply logic and reason to all things including religion. In today's world, full of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, it is too dangerous to rely on faith, including faith in science and secularism.

 

 

What is New and Different About Beyond Faith:

 

  1. Never before has so much knowledge from so many areas of Orthodox Judaism been brought together in one place and presented in such an interesting and entertaining way.
  2. The thesis of Beyond Faith is revolutionary: that the path to peace requires that all religions be compared and judged "by the standards of logic and reason". Once it is clear which religion, if any, is the most valid, then the others should be reinterpreted, modified, or abandoned, in light of this new information.
  3. It is politically correct to say that all religions are equal, but Minsky asserts, "When one man's religion calls for the abolishment of another man's religion, only a rational assessment of the two competing systems can provide a logical answer as to which, if either, should survive." As he says, " We discard other ideas (in politics or science for example) when they prove to be logically bankrupt: why should religion be exempt?"
  4. Beyond Faith challenges the common assumptions about what religion is and its usefulness and relevance in the modern world.
  5. Surprising discoveries from Beyond Faith include: Zionism has its roots in the Bible where the return of the Jews to Israel is described as a prerequisite to world peace, Judaism was an early advocate of "feminism" calling for the equality of women and acknowledging certain superior female traits, Hebrew letters have deep hidden meanings and even the shapes and the parts of the letters have meanings, the Jewish calendar was the most accurate ever created until the space age, there are codes hidden in the Torah that seem to have predicted modern events such as the Holocaust, the assassination of JFK, space flight, and the return of the Jews to Israel, there is harmony between Judaism and true science, the basic morals of our society come primarily from Judaism, some of the biblical prophesies that Christians use to "prove" that Jesus was the messiah actually prove that Jesus was not the messiah, God has a given name but only the Jews call Him by this name, key events of the Holocaust are predicted in the book of Esther, Judaism has customs that celebrate nature and encourage meditation, Jews do not believe in the devil or hell, many Orthodox Jews believe in reincarnation and resurrection, the modern branches of Judaism such as Reform and Conservative have only been around for about a hundred years and may be on their way out, the Jewish Bible over 3,000 years ago called for all nations to come together to create a world of peace and predicts that world peace is inevitable.

 

 

Other Points of Interest about Beyond Faith:

 

  1. It can be used as a reference book as it deals with most of the main areas of Jewish knowledge.
  2. It is encyclopedic, giving detailed answers to most of the common questions people have about Judaism.
  3. It compares conflicting claims between Judaism and Christianity and other religions.
  4. It exposes false notions about hell and explains why Jews and others should not make decisions based on fear.
  5. It explains to non-Jews how traditional Judaism views them and their role in creation. It also gives them suggestions on how to restructure their own beliefs to fit into the biblical plan for all nations.
  6. It challenges secular people, including atheists, to question their assumptions. It points out that even they often live by and make decisions based on faith.
  7. It explains the path to peace as outlined in the Bible and how all people can join together to implement it.

 

 

Who Should Be Interested in Beyond Faith:

 

  1. Jews of all backgrounds; the Orthodox will enjoy it as a reference book, the non-Orthodox and secular will find that it explains many traditional Jewish ideas in an interesting and entertaining way, and contains themes such as Jewish unity and world unity that all Jews should appreciate.

  2. Seekers of all backgrounds who want to know what answers Judaism has for humanity and its prescription for world peace.
  3. Anyone interested in comparing religions and comparing religion to science and philosophy.
  4. Anyone interested in the question of whether or not God exists, and whether there is any evidence.

  5. Thinkers who would like to see logic and reason applied to religious study.
  6. The artwork would also be of interest to people who are attracted to expressionist art with religious themes.

 

 

Table of Contents

 

CONTENTS

 

Foreword: How Can You Believe All That Stuff? ............................... xv

Preface: Who is Who? ......................................................................... xvii

Acknowledgments .............................................................................. xxiii

  1. Introduction: Faith vs. Rational Investigation .......................................1
  2. The Amazing Jewish Calendar and
    Other Golden Pebbles on The Mountain of Judaism ........................9
  3. Shedding Light on the Kosher Laws ..................................................33
  4. Hebrew: A Wise Language? ................................................................39
  5. The Bible Code: Secret Codes or Hype? ..........................................59
  6. Jewish Prophecy: True Prophecy or a Good Guess? .....................91
  7. Will the Real Bible Please Stand Up? .............................................131
  8. Religious Science or Scientific Religion?
    (Evolution Versus Judaism) ..............................................................151
  9. What is Morality and Where did it Come From? ............................207
  10. Is God Moral? A Serious Response to a Serious Question .......231
  11. “Go to Hell”? (Why Christians and Jews Both Exist) ....................237
  12. What’s In  A  The Name? .....................................................................323
  13. Purim and the Holocaust: A Connection? ......................................341
  14. Jewish Self-hatred and its Cure .......................................................357
  15. An Accomplished Woman, Who Can Find?
    (Feminism Versus Judaism) ............................................................365
  16. Love and Marriage? . . . Maybe Not!
    The Truth About Conversion and Intermarriage ............................393
  17. Holidays or Holy Days? ......................................................................405
  18. The Beauty of the Jewish Lifestyle: Pick a Mitzvah ........................415
  19. Is Judaism Less Spiritual Than Other Religions? ........................421
  20. Getting Back to Nature, Meditation, and
    The Search for Inner Peace ...............................................................431
  21. Everything You Ever Wanted to Know
    About Life After Death . . . But Were Afraid to Ask ..........................445
  22. Division or Unity: Should There
    be Different Branches of Judaism? ..................................................467
  23. Zionism: The Jewish Claim to the Land of Israel,
    Israel’s Role Among the Nations, and the Path to Peace ............483
  24. Who are the True Unitarians? ............................................................507
  25. Conclusion: Search for the Truth .......................................................521

Bibliography ...........................................................................................527