The Basic Tenets of the Jewish Faith

The Torah remains the most sacred of texts for the Jewish people.
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Judaism is the oldest of the three Abrahamic faiths that also include Christianity and Islam. Its most basic and fundamental beliefs arise from the Hebrew Bible, and in particular, from the Torah. The Torah is the religion's most sacred text and has been used by the religion for centuries. It contains 613 commandments, which in great detail, instruct Jews how to live. These commandments have been codified through Rambam's 13 Principles of the Jewish Faith.

1 Monotheism

The most basic tenet of Judaism is its monotheistic faith: Jews only believe and worship a single God. Unlike Christians, Jews do not believe in a godhead divided into three beings, known as the Trinity, composed of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. In the Judaic faith, God does not have a physical body, is transcendent, omnipotent, always just and accessible.

2 Rambam's 13 Principles of Jewish Faith

Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, also known as the Rambam, was an important intellectual figure of medieval Judaism and a distinguished codifier of the Torah law. Guided by the Torah, he compiled what he believed to be the most fundamental principles that should guide Jews. This is called the "Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith." Today, they remain the most basic tenets that Jews strive to live by and include. These beliefs include: (1) an omnipresent God who is the creator of all things; (2) God's absolute unity; (3) God's non-corporeality; (4) that God is eternal; (5) to worship God and only one God; (6) that God uses prophecy to speak to men; (7) the importance of Moses' prophecy; (8) the divinity of the Torah; (9) the Torah's unchangeable nature; (10) God's providence; (11) God's just rewards and retributions; (12) the messianic era; and (13) the eventual resurrection of the dead.

3 Authority of the Torah

The Torah -- the first part of the Hebrew Bible, which includes the the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy -- is the most significant and authoritative religious text in Judaism. As these first books detail sacred revelations to the Jewish people, for Jews, it also confirms God's commitment to Jews as the chosen people. The Torah also articulates the rules that should govern the life of Jews. Broadly, the word "Torah" can also be used to describe both Judaism's written and oral laws and can encompass all Jewish scripture and teachings.

4 Importance of Life and Nation-state

Although Jews believe in "Sheol" -- a dark place where people go in the afterlife -- Judaism emphasizes life rather than the rewards or punishments after life. Death is often described in the language of finality in the Hebrew Bible: "So man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens are no longer, he will not awake nor be roused out of his sleep." (Job 14:12) Even though Jews believe in an eventual resurrection after death and the messianic era, they also believe that death is incomprehensible and is the workings of God and God alone. What can be known, and what should be of concern, then, is how a person lives out God's laws.

Jason Cristiano Ramon holds a doctorate in political science and a master's degree in philosophy. He has taught political science in China.