Jewish Principles Of Faith
The concept of an explicit, paramount definition of faith does not exist in Judaism as it does in other monotheistic religions such as Christianity. Although Jews and religious leaders share a core of monotheistic principles, and there are many fundamental principles quoted in the Talmud to define Judaism (often by what it is not), it has no established formulation of principles of faith that are or must be recognized by all observant Jews.
The various "principles of faith" that have been enumerated over the intervening centuries carry no greater weight than that imparted to them by the fame and scholarship of their respective authors, as the only added weight is direct Prophecy, which is considered to have been lost in the 4th or 5th century BCE. Central authority in Judaism is not vested in any person or group - though the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish court, would fulfil this role when it is re-established - but rather in Judaism's sacred writings, laws, and traditions. Judaism affirms the existence and uniqueness of God and stresses performance of deeds or commandments alongside adherence to a strict belief system. In contrast to traditions such as Christianity which demand a more explicit identification of God, faith in Judaism requires one to honour God through a constant struggle with God's identity.
Orthodox Judaism has stressed a number of core principles in its educational programs, most importantly a belief that there is a single, omniscient and transcendent God, who created the universe, and continues to be concerned with its governance. Traditional Judaism maintains that God established a covenant with the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, and revealed his laws and commandments to them in the form of the Torah. In Rabbinic Judaism, the Torah comprises both the written Torah (Pentateuch) and a tradition of oral law, much of it codified in later sacred writings.
Traditionally, the practice of Judaism has been devoted to the study of Torah and observance of these laws and commandments. In normative Judaism, the Torah and hence Jewish law itself is unchanging, but interpretation of law is more open. It is considered a mitzvah (commandment) to study and understand the law.
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“As mens habits of mind differ, so that some more readily embrace one form of faith, some another, for what moves one to pray may move another to scoff, I conclude ... that everyone should be free to choose for himself the foundations of his creed, and that faith should be judged only by its fruits.”
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