Judaism/What do Jews Believe?
There are a number of basic Jewish principles of faith that one is expected to uphold in order to be said to be in consonance with the Jewish faith. Unlike most Christian denominations, Judaism lacks a dogma. The closest anyone has come, though, is the list of Thirteen Principles by Maimonides (Rambam).
- 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' 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
The final two principles are two of the most controversial, with many outside of Orthodox Judaism not adhering to the final two principles.
A number of formulations of Jewish beliefs have appeared, though there is some dispute over how many basic principles there are. Rabbi Joseph Albo, for instance, in Sefer Ha-Ikkarim counts three principles of faith, while the Rambam (Maimonides) lists thirteen. While some later rabbis have attempted to reconcile the differences, claiming that the Rambam's principles are covered by Albo's much shorter list, the difference, and alternate lists provided by other medieval rabbinic authorities seem to indicate a some level of tolerance for varying theological perspectives.
In comparison to Christianity, Judaism tends to focus more on actions and practical results and less on theological understandings. Ultimately, however, theology is also quite important in Judaism.