(Review) Reasonable Doubts: Breaking the Kuzari, by the Second Son

A good friend of mine wrote a book, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Below is my review:

The Second Son writes in wonderfully clear prose, leading the reader through complex arguments with ease. He engages with popular formulations of the Kuzari argument as they circulate in the frum world, as well as with three representative texts (R’ Yisroel Chait, R’ Lawrence Kelemen, and R’ Dovid Gottlieb). This allows the Second Son to break down the argument into minute premises, rather than trying to tackle a huge and complex argument that is usually expressed in a single sentence. His treatment of the Kuzari Argument is, therefore, meticulous, methodical, and rigorous.

The book draws on traditional Jewish texts like Tanach , Gemara, and meforshim, but it also dips into many academic fields: linguistics, mythology, history, logic, philosophy, archaeology… The language is a delightful mix of rigorous academic writing and yeshivishe twists of phrase!

The tone throughout the book is a joy to read. The Second Son addresses the reader directly, leading us through complex points of logic and providing examples and repetition at every step – reading this book felt like I was in a fascinating class, gorgeously structured for maximum comprehension.

If you’re a practicing or believing Orthodox Jew, if you’ve used the Kuzari Argument before to try to convince others of the truth of Orthodox Judaism, if you struggle with your own doubts about the truth of Orthodox Judaism, if you want to not think of your friends and relatives who went off the derech as evil or damaged – this book is for you.

If you were ever told to read Beyond a Reasonable Doubt or Reason to Believe or Permission to Receive when you expressed doubt in Orthodox Judaism – this is definitely the book for you!

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