The 13 Principles of Judaism
- The belief in the existence of the Creator, who is perfect in every manner of existence and is the Primary Cause of all that exists.
- The belief in G-d’s absolute and unparalleled unity — He is One and Unique.
- The belief in G-d’s non-corporeality (He has no form, no physicality).
- The belief in G-d’s eternity.
- The belief to pray only to G-d and not to or through any intermediaries.
- The belief that G-d communicates with man through prophecy.
- The belief that Moses was the greatest of prophets, his prophecies are true.
- The belief in the divine origin of the Torah.
- There will be no other Torah.
- The belief in G-d’s omniscience (all knowing) and providence.
- The belief in G-d’s reward and retribution.
- The belief in the Messiah and the messianic era.
- The belief in the resurrection of the dead.
One of the greatest Jewish sages who ever lived was משה בן-מימון / Moses ben Maimon (Moses, son of Maimon), also known as Maimonides and by Jews as the Rambam (an acronym of his name). This brilliant man lived in the 12th century CE. His profession was physician. The last few years of his life he was court physician to the sultan of Egypt. He wrote 10 medical books in Arabic on how to treat asthma, counteract poisons, improve digestion and so on.
Jew and Arab respected this learned man, and upon his death Egypt observed three days of mourning for his passing.
Aside from his contributions to medicine, the Rambam made some of the greatest contributions to Jewish thought in history. Among his contributions was his list of 13 principles which comprise the core of Jewish thinking.
In the next few posts I will address each of these 13 principles and contrast them to Christianity. It seems prudent to begin by giving the background of the great Rambam.
First of all, realize that no Jew is held out to be a saint or more than human. We are all too human, from Moses who was shy and stuttered to Moses ben Maimon, known as the Rambam, or Maimonides whom we will discuss here.
R’ Moshe ben Maimon, Moses Maimonides the Rambam, [ca. 1135 or 8 – 1204] is a name respected by Jew, Christian and Muslim. He was the foremost medieval Jewish sage (and that is saying something, there were many giants in that era). In his life he worked as a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Spain, Morocco and Egypt where he was physician to the sultan and his family.
The Rambam’s mother died giving birth to him. His father was a great rabbi in his own right. He was a scholar and judge in Cordoba. The Rambam was well educated in mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy. In 1148 (when he was about 11 – 13 years old) Cordoba was overtaken by the Almohads, a fanatical Muslim sect that forced the Jews to convert to Islam or be killed. The Rambam’s family fled to Spain, eventually setting in Fez, in North Africa.
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