Religion & Beliefs

Maimonides’ 13 Principles

Today, in response to another post, someone mentioned the 13 Principles (articles, foundation, etc)  of faith (Judaism, Jewish faith, etc) by Maimonides (the Rambam).  And I think it's really important, here at Faithhacker, not to assume that we all know the same … Read More

By / May 2, 2007

Today, in response to another post, someone mentioned the 13 Principles (articles, foundation, etc)  of faith (Judaism, Jewish faith, etc) by Maimonides (the Rambam). 

And I think it's really important, here at Faithhacker, not to assume that we all know the same stuff.  So, in case you don't know much about the man (I didn't until I read a book last year, you might be interested to find out that:

Maimonides was the first person to write a systematic code of all Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah; he produced one of the great philosophic statements of Judaism, The Guide to the Perplexed; published a commentary on the entire Mishna; served as physician to the sultan of Egypt; wrote numerous books on medicine; and, in his "spare time," served as leader of Cairo's Jewish community.

He really was an astoundingly brilliant man, with a wide range of projects and an amazing kind of perspective.  A kind of pious rationalist, a constant thinker.  Someone who has been insanely important for Judaism, and far beyond it…

But one of the really important things he did (in his commentary on the mishnah)  was to (and yeah, this is my own language, so feel free to rip me apart) essentially boil down the 613 commandments, and reduce it to some more easily remembered rules/concepts. Here they are:

1 There is a God.

2 There is one God.

3 God has no physical body

4 God is eternal

5 Only God may be worshipped

6 Prophecy–God communicates with humans

7 Moses was the greatest of the prophets

8 The Torah came from God

9 The Torah is the authentic word of God and may not be changed

10 God is aware of all our deeds

11 God rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked

12 The Messiah will come

13 The dead will be resurrected

Sounds pretty sinple, right?  But think about it… Maimonides took the commandments, the COMMANDMENTS!… and monkeyed with them.  He came to a place where he thought he understood Judaism well enough to make a cheat sheet for how to believe as a Jew, and that he understood people well enough to know they needed one.  I want to take a second now to appreciate the BALLS on this guy! 

Of course, other people are better equipped than me to explain what Maimonides meant… but I still get to say WOW!