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Judaism - Doctrine and Principles of Faith
As noted, Judaism begins with the Covenant between God and Abraham. Most Judaic doctrine and principals spring from that agreement and from the early books of the bible.
Historically, Judaism has considered belief in the divine revelation and acceptance of the Written and Oral Torah as its fundamental core belief, but Judaism does not have a centralized authority dictating religious dogma. This gave rise to many different formulations as to the specific theological understandings inherent in the Torah (the first five books of the Jewish Bible, the Jewish Scriptures), and Talmud (a collection of writings constituting Jewish teachings and commentaries related to the Jewish Scriptures).
As a result and over the centuries, a number of formulations of Jewish principles of faith have appeared, and though they differ with respect to certain details, they demonstrate a commonality of core ideology.
Of these formulations, the one most widely considered authoritative is Maimonides' 13 Principles of Faith, formulated in the 12th century. These principles were controversial when first proposed, evoking criticism.
Maimonides thirteen principles were ignored by much of the Jewish community for the next few centuries. Over time, two poetic restatements of these principles, which are titled "Ani Ma'amin" and "Yigdal," became canonized in the Jewish prayer book, and eventually became widely held.
Very early Jewish scholars (1400 A.D.) have criticized Maimonides' list as containing too many items that, while true, were not fundamentals of the faith, and thus placed too many Jews in the category of "heretic," rather than those who were simply in error.
Many others criticized any such formulation as minimizing acceptance of the entire Torah. As noted however, neither Maimonides nor his contemporaries viewed these principles as encompassing all of Jewish belief, but rather as the core theological underpinnings of the acceptance of Judaism.
Along these lines, the ancient historian Josephus emphasized practices and observances rather than religious beliefs, associating apostasy (rejection of the beliefs) with a failure to...
- Observe Jewish law
- Maintain that the requirements for conversion to Judaism included (i) circumcision and (ii) adherence to traditional customs.
Today most Orthodox authorities hold that Maimonides' 13 Principles Of Faith are obligatory, and that Jews who do not fully accept each one of them are potentially heretical. Maimonides (1135 - 1204) was a Rabbi. He was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher, and one of the greatest Torah scholars of all time. He is the author of these...
Principles of Faith.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is the Creator and Guide of everything that has been created; He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is One, and that there is no unity in any manner like His, and that He alone is our God, who was, and is, and will be.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, has no body, and that He is free from all the properties of matter, and that there can be no (physical) comparison to Him whatsoever.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, is the first and the last.
- I believe with perfect faith that to the Creator, Blessed be His Name, and to Him alone, it is right to pray, and that it is not right to pray to any being besides Him.
- I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.
- I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses our teacher, peace be upon him, was true, and that he was the chief of the prophets, both those who preceded him and those who followed him.
- I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that is now in our possession is the same that was given to Moses our teacher, peace be upon him.
- I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be exchanged, and that there will never be any other Torah from the Creator, Blessed be His Name.
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, knows all the deeds of human beings and all their thoughts, as it is written, "He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do." (Psalms 33:15).
- I believe with perfect faith that the Creator, Blessed be His Name, rewards those who keep His commandments and punishes those that transgress them.
- I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and even though he may tarry, nonetheless, I wait every day for his coming.
- I believe with perfect faith that there will be a revival of the dead at the time when it shall please the Creator, Blessed be His name, and His mention shall be exalted forever and ever.
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