For the last two weeks I have spoken about Kairouan and the Torah that was taught there. At some point the Muhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifslims in Tunisia became too fundamental, and Torah moved to Spain. Rav Yitzchak Alfasi moved to Spain and while there one of his pupils was Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi.
In this shiur I go off on a tangent about the so-called 'Kuzari Principle' which I think is exactly the OPPOSITE of the real Kuzari, who argues against rational proofs of G-d and Torah. (If anything 'proofs' of Torah should be associated with Avraham ibn Daud). I give my views on Kuzari and reasons for belief (and there is quite a lot of discussion as people disagree with what I say). When I was looking for information about the Kuzari Principle I found that Micha Berger had beaten me to it (again!). He writes here in a much nicer and better way than me, so make sure you have a look at it.
I look briefly at Rabbi Shlomo ibn Gabirol, and explain that he brought neo-Platonism to Christian Europe. But Avraham ibn Daud really does not rate him highly as a philosopher (though apparently he was good enough as a poet).
The person I really wanted to speak about was Rabbi Avraham ibn Daud, author of Sefer HaKaballah and Emunah Ramah (which was written as an attack on Kuzari). But I ran out of time. Suffice it to say that he was a hardcore Aristotelian who said things that Rambam did not say explicitly, and who builds his Judaism firmly on the bedrock of philosophy.
I have time for a short discussion on the idea of whether Jewish souls are intrinsically 'better' than non-Jewish souls. I think that Kuzari is the first source to say such a thing (Rashi and Tosefot do not agree to it - I don't think), but ibn Daud disagrees and claims that all human souls are on the same level.
Here is the shiur:
Here is the audio shiur (and the pdf sheets to download if you want).
ibn Gabirol, ibn Daud and Yehuda HaLevi
(Right click and then 'download as')
ibn Gabirol, ibn Daud and Yehuda HaLevi source sheet