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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“Faith means belief in something concerning which doubt is still theoretically possible; and as the test of belief is willingness to act, one may say that faith is the readiness to act in a cause the prosperous issue of which is not certified to us in advance.”
—William James (18421910)
“It gives me the greatest pleasure to say, as I do from the bottom of my heart, that never in the history of the country, in any crisis and under any conditions, have our Jewish fellow citizens failed to live up to the highest standards of citizenship and patriotism.”
—William Howard Taft (18571930)
“All those who write either explicitly or by insinuation against the dignity, freedom, and immortality of the human soul, may so far forth be justly said to unhinge the principles of morality, and destroy the means of making men reasonably virtuous.”
—George Berkeley (16851753)