Thursday, 17 January 2013

Context and 13 Principles of Faith

When I read different books on Kabbalah, I sometimes wonder how much awareness there is of Maimonides's Thirteen Principles of faith.

Maimonides was a highly, highly influential rabbi who lived in Twelfth century. Although his rationalist worldview is not as mainstream as it once might have been, his rulings on Jewish law still form the bedrock for many rulings and interpretations of Jewish law today. For example, the laws for how to distinguish if a person is the Messiah or not.

Anyway, the reason I'm bringing this up is twofold.... 1. I'm close to completing my first read-through of his book: "Guide for the Perplexed". It's quite a challenging book to read and has forced me on numerous occasions to re-evaluate my worldview. 2. I'm sure that I will quote the 13 principles at some point soon and want to have an easy link in this blog.

Here are the 13 principles of faith.
  1. Belief in the existence of the Creator, who is perfect in every manner of existence and is the Primary Cause of all that exists. 
  2. The belief in G-d's absolute and unparalleled unity. 
  3. The belief in G-d's non-corporeality, nor that He will be affected by any physical occurrences, such as movement, or rest, or dwelling. 
  4. The belief in G-d's eternity. 
  5. The imperative to worship G-d exclusively and no foreign false gods. 
  6. The belief that G-d communicates with man through prophecy. 
  7. The belief in the primacy of the prophecy of Moses our teacher. 
  8. The belief in the divine origin of the Torah. 
  9. The belief in the immutability of the Torah. 
  10. The belief in G-d's omniscience and providence. 
  11. The belief in divine reward and retribution. 
  12. The belief in the arrival of the Messiah and the messianic era. 
  13. The belief in the resurrection of the dead. 
If you want to understand the context and worldview that Jewish Kabbalists are writing in, then you need to be aware of these principles. Different names of the Divine do not refer to different entities, such as Eolohim and El Shaddai. Names reflect attributes, ways of interacting with Creation. Angels that have Divine names as part of their name is another matter that I will hopefully cover later in the year.