Unlike the Christian and Muslim (Islam) religion, Judaism has no universal doctrine that is a requirement for membership. Generally speaking a person can be considered Jewish whether he adheres to a complete system of beliefs about God and the afterlife, holds only a few simple beliefs that give meaning to ritual, or even does not believe in God at all.
This diversity in Jewish belief arises partly because actions and good deeds, not beliefs, are the most important part of Jewish religious life. This is very different to Christianity and Islam, in which belief in at least in a few of the basic doctrines is of primary importance.
The term “Jewish” can be used to describe a race and a culture rather than a religion, so some who identify themselves as Jewish may have little interest in the beliefs and practices associated with the religion of Judaism.
The Torah and Talmud have a great deal to say about God, humanity and the meaning of life. Jewish history features significant theological and mystical inquiry into religious concepts.
The beliefs of individual Jews can vary widely. However, the 12th century rabbi Maimonides put together “13 Articles of Faith” that he believed every Jew ought to adhere to and this is often used as a summary of common Jewish beliefs.
13 Articles of Faith:
- God exists
- God is one and unique
- God is incorporeal
- God is eternal
- Prayer is to God only.
- The prophets spoke truth.
- Moses was the greatest of the prophets.
- The Written and Oral Torah 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.
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