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Principles of Faith


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The essential beliefs on which the Jewish religion is founded; the basic Jewish dogmas from which all else in the religion follows. The thirteen principles of the faith as laid down by Maimonides are implied attacks on ideas the sage believed were foreign to Judaism. It is these thirteen that are significant for Maimonides because it was in the areas covered by them that the struggle between Judaism and rival faiths took place.

Maimonides thirteen principles are:1. Belief in the existence of God.2. Belief in God's unity.3. Belief in God's incorporeality.4. Belief in God's eternity.5. Belief that God alone is to be worshipped.6. Belief in prophecy.7. Belief in Moses as the greatest of the prophets.8. Belief that the Torah was given by God to Moses.9. Belief that the Torah is immutable.10. Belief that God knows the thoughts and deeds of human beings.11. Belief that God rewards and punishes.12. Belief in the coming of the Messiah.13. Belief in the resurrection of the dead.

1. Belief in the existence of God.

2. Belief in God's unity.

3. Belief in God's incorporeality.

4. Belief in God's eternity.

5. Belief that God alone is to be worshipped.

6. Belief in prophecy.

7. Belief in Moses as the greatest of the prophets.

8. Belief that the Torah was given by God to Moses.

9. Belief that the Torah is immutable.

10. Belief that God knows the thoughts and deeds of human beings.

11. Belief that God rewards and punishes.

12. Belief in the coming of the Messiah.

13. Belief in the resurrection of the dead.

Maimonides adds a very dogmatic note. Even a complete transgressor, though he will be punished for his sins, has a share in the World to Come if he believes in these principles. But anyone who denies one of these principles is an unbeliever and no longer belongs to the community of Israel. Maimonides here makes correct belief the supreme value. The believing sinner is included in the ‘general body of Israel’. The unbeliever, even though he is not guilty of serious sin, is excluded from ‘the general body of Israel’ and, Maimonides continues, ‘we are obliged to hate him and cause him to perish’. (This final statement may be sheer hyperbole but is indicative of Maimonides' severely dogmatic cast of mind.) For Maimonides a Jew is defined not by what he does but by what he believes.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.


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