What Do Jews Believe?
The closest that anyone has ever come to creating a widely-accepted list of Jewish beliefs is Rambam's thirteen principles of faith.
[Moses Ben Maimon, is also called RAMBAM, his Arabic name was Abu 'Imran Musa Ibn Maymun Ibn 'Ubayd Allah (born, 1135, Córdoba, died 1204, Egypt). He was a Jewish philosopher, jurist, and physician, the foremost intellectual figure of medieval Judaism. He also served as the court physician to the sultan Saladin, the famous Muslim military leader, and to his son al-Afdal.]
Rambam's thirteen principles of faith, which he thought were the minimum requirements of Jewish belief, are:
- God exists.
- God is one and unique.
- God is incorporeal.
- God is eternal.
- Prayer is to be directed to God alone and to no other.
- The words of the prophets are true.
- Moses's prophecies are true, and Moses was the greatest of the prophets.
- The Written Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) and Oral Torah (teachings now contained in the Talmud and other writings) were given to Moses.
- There will be no other Torah.
- God knows the thoughts and deeds of men.
- God will reward the good and punish the wicked.
- The Messiah will come.
- The dead will be resurrected.
These are very basic and general principles. Yet as basic as these principles are, the necessity of believing each one of these has been disputed at one time or another, and the liberal movements of Judaism dispute many of these principles.
Judaism focuses on relationships & actions:
- The relationship between God and mankind.
- Between God and the Jewish nation.
- Between the Jewish nation and the land of Israel.
- Between human beings.
According to Orthodox Judaism, these actions include 613 commandments given by God in the Torah as well as laws instituted by the rabbis and long-standing customs. These actions are mentioned in detail regarding Halakhah, the Jewish Law.
In the Image of God
The Bible states that humanity was created in the image of God, but what does it mean to be created in the image of God? Clearly, human are not created in the physical image of God, because Judaism steadfastly maintains that God is incorporeal and has no physical appearance. Rambam points out that the Hebrew words translated as "image" and "likeness" in Gen. 1:27 do not refer to the physical form of a thing. The word for "image" in Gen. 1:27 is "tzelem," which refers to the nature or essence of a thing, as in Psalm 73:20, "you will despise their image (tzel'mam)." You despise a person's nature and not a person's physical appearance.
Jesus - Not Christ (Messiah)
Jews do not believe that Jesus was the moshiach (Messiah, Christ). Assuming that he existed, he simply did not fulfill the mission of the moshiach as Jews have always understood it and as it is described in scripture. Throughout Jewish history, there have been many people who have claimed to be the moshiach (Masiha, Christ), or whose followers have claimed that they were the moshiach. The moshiach and the Olam Ha-Ba lie in the future, not in the past according to Jewish belief.
They treat Jesus with contempt, and blasphemy by calling him as false Messiah, illegitimate childe born to Mary as a result of rape by a Roman soldier. They would have succeeded to kill him through crucifixion after having tried for blasphemy, had God not raised him up [belief of Muslims and many early and present day Christians]
Jewish Attitudes Toward Non-Jews
Because of their acceptance of Torah, Jews consider that they have a special status in the eyes of God, but they lose that special status when they abandon Torah. Furthermore, the blessings that they received from God by accepting the Torah come with a high price: Jews have a greater responsibility than non-Jews. While non-Jews are only obligated to obey the seven commandments given to Noah, Jews are responsible for fulfilling the 613 mitzvot in the Torah, thus God will punish Jews for doing things that would not be a sin for non-Jews.
The Seven Laws of Noah
According to traditional Judaism, God gave Noah and his family seven commandments to observe when he saved them from the flood. These commandments, referred to as the ‘Noahic or Noahide Commandments’, are inferred from Genesis, Chapter. 9, summarized as follows:
1) To establish courts of justice.
2) Not to commit blasphemy.
3) Not to commit idolatry.
4) Not to commit incest and adultery.
5) Not to commit bloodshed.
6) Not to commit robbery.
7) Not to eat flesh cut from a living animal.
These commandments are fairly simple and straightforward, and most of them are recognized by most of the world as sound moral principles. Any non-Jew who follows these laws has a place in the world to come. [lower to the Jews?]
The Noahic commandments are binding on all people, because all people are descended from Noah and his family. The 613 mitzvot of the Torah, on the other hand, are only binding on the descendants of those who accepted the commandments at Sinai and upon those who take on the yoke of the commandments voluntarily (by conversion). In addition, the Noahic commandments are applied more leniently to non-Jews than the corresponding commandments are to Jews, because non-Jews do not have the benefit of Oral Torah to guide them in interpreting the laws.
The Promised Land
The history of the Jewish people begins with Abraham, and the story of Abraham begins when God tells him to leave his homeland, promising Abraham and his descendants a new home in the land of Canaan. (Genesis,12). This is the land now known as Israel, named after Abraham's grandson, whose descendants are the Jewish people. The land is often referred to as the Promised Land because of God’s repeated promise (Gen. 12:7, 13:15, 15:18, 17:8) to give the land to the descendants of Abraham.
[Main source of extracts, http://www.jewfaq.org]
[Comments: “the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto your descendants have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates”(Genesis;15:18). The Arabs and present day Palestinians are also decedents of Abraham, through his first borne son, Ishmael, moreover, all the Muslims, are the follower of their spiritual father Abraham, through Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), hence also the spiritual descendent of Abraham, deliberately ignored and some oppressed. Islam does not subscribe to the existence of the concept of a chosen race for all times, which is well understood form the following verse of Qur’an: “Remember that when Abraham was tested by his Lord with certain commands, he fulfilled them. God said: "Surely, I will make you the leader of mankind." "What about my offspring?" Asked Abraham. "My Covenant," said Allah, "will not apply to the evil doers.”(Qur’an;2:124). Here the claim of the children of Israel as “Chosen People of God” by only virtue of their decent from Abraham, who was made “a leader of mankind” by God, has been negated. It is conditional to the obedience of God by the decedents of Abraham, obviously children of Ishmael not excluded.]
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