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The Fundamentals of Jewish Belief

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By Rabbi Nissan Dovid Dubov **Fundamental Jewish Beliefs** What do Jews believe in? Maimonides, a great Jewish rabbi and philosopher summarized the Jewish faith in 13 principles. He starts each of those principles of faith with the words “_Ani Maamin_\- I believe”. The following is a summary of those principles. a) I believe in God. God is one. He was, is and will be. b) I believe that God is everywhere. He does not have a body. He creates everything and can see everything. c) I believe that God speaks to man. These men and women are called prophets. The greatest of all prophets was Moses. It was to Moses that God gave the Torah. d) I believe that the Torah is true. I also believe that God will reward those who keep the Torah. e) I believe that I was created to serve God as explained in the Torah. f) I believe that one day, a Jewish King called _Moshiach_ will come and gather all the Jews to live in _Eretz Yisrael_. He will rule, and in his days there will be peace in the whole world. In his days, I believe that God will bring the dead back to life. **God** What is God? God is a super being that creates the world. The world as we see it is made of elements that when combined make gases liquids and solids. The basic building block of all elements is the atom. Each atom is made of sub- atomic particles. Science teaches us that mass and energy are related. The energy that can bring into being the tiniest mass — we call Divine creative energy. God is the source of that energy and He pumps that energy every single second into making each and every atom. In fact if God were to withdraw that source of energy then the creation would disappear! So when we are looking at a piece of wood and a piece of plastic — the reason they look and feel different is because the molecular structure in both is different — however the energy source that creates their atomic particles, something from nothing, is the same. In this sense we can understand how God is everywhere, because He is the Creator of all existence. This is what the Bible means when it states that “there is nothing besides Him”. This is also the meaning of the words “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” This is not only saying that there is one God (in contrast to those who believe in many gods), but in addition it means that God the Creator is one single united Being that creates all. He is Omnipresent (at all times present), Omnipotent (all powerful) and Omniscient (knows all). **Proof of the existence of God** There are three proofs of the existence of God: 1\. The stand at Sinai — this shall be discussed soon. 2\. The proof by Intelligent Design — which means that when we observe the immense brilliance and complexity of the creation we must conclude that this did not come about by itself but it must have had a Master Designer and Creator. To illustrate with a story: There was once a King who asked a rabbi to prove to him that God existed. The rabbi asked the King to step out of the room, and the rabbi sat at the King’s desk and took the royal quill dipped it into the ink well and wrote a magnificent poem. When he had finished, the rabbi called the King back into the room. The King read the poem and praised the rabbi for his extraordinary writing skills. The rabbi said, “I didn’t write the poem — I simply poured out the ink from the ink well onto the paper and the poem formed by itself!” “Impossible” said the King, “if you poured the ink from the ink well it is hardly likely to have even formed one letter never mind a word, or sentence and certainly not a poem that rhymes.” “So there is your proof” said the rabbi, “a poem needs a poet and the world needs a Creator.” 3\. The fulfillment of Torah prophecies — when we take a look at the prophecies mentioned in the Torah we see that they have come true during the course of history. This proves that the prophecy came from God who guides the course of history. **Divine Providence** Everything that happens in the world is with Divine Providence. Even if the wind turns a leaf in the street, it is with Divine Providence, meaning that it is part of the Divine plan. The explanation is because at that very moment God is creating the leaf, and the wind. Although it seems to us like a force of nature, in truth it is the hand of God. **Accountability** The rabbis teach us that we are always to be aware of three things; an eye watching, an ear listening and a hand writing. This means that everything we think, say and do is recorded by God and we are held accountable for it. When we die our soul stands before a Heavenly court and has to give an account for all we have done. **The Purpose of Creation** Why did God create the world? The reason God created this physical world is so that we can make a dwelling for His presence in this world. Just as a person feels at home in his own home so too is God to feel at home in His creation. We create this dwelling by keeping the Torah and Mitzvot. **The Torah** The word “Torah” means “teaching”. It is God’s teaching to man. In the Hebrew year 2448, God came down on Mount Sinai and gave this “teaching” to the entire Jewish people, through Moses, God’s faithful servant. All Jewish beliefs come from the Torah. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah”. The Five Books of Moses can also be referred to as the _Chumash_. The Torah is our very life and existence. It is Divine wisdom and is a code how to live a good and moral life. Its ways are pleasant and it leads to peace. Throughout history, Jews have studied and cherished the Torah and lived their lives according to its teachings. Through the study of Torah and fulfillment of Mitzvot we fulfill the purpose of creation which is to make a dwelling for God in this world. **The 613 Commandments — Mitzvot** In the Torah there are 613 commandments. 248 are Positive Commandments [do’s]. 365 are Negative Commandments [don’ts]. In addition to the word mitzvah meaning a commandment, it also means a connection. This means that a Jew has 613 ways to connect with God. In every aspect of life a Jew connects with God through the Mitzvot. So for example we connect to God in our eating by keeping the laws of Kosher. **The Written Law & The Oral Law** When God came down on Mount Sinai to give the Torah, He gave it in two parts: 1) The Written Law — _Torah Shebichtav_ The Ten Commandments were written on two tablets of stone and later Moses wrote down the whole written law in a scroll which we call a _Sefer Torah_ [as we have today in the ark in the synagogue]. 2) The Oral Law — _Torah Shebaal Peh_ God explained all the 613 Commandments to Moses orally. For example, it says in the written Torah that it is a mitzvah to have a _mezuzah_ on the door. However, it does not explain what a _mezuzah_ is. God gave the explanation to Moses and it is part of the Oral Law. We believe that both the Written and Oral Laws are true. **The Ten Commandments** As stated above, there are 613 commandments in the Torah. All of them are important. However, when God came down on Mount Sinai to give the Torah, He actually spoke to the entire Jewish nation and gave them ten of these 613 commandments. The Ten Commandments are: 1) I am the Lord your God. Believe in God. 2) You should have no other gods or idols. 3) Do not mention God’s name in vain. 4) Keep the Shabbat. 5) Honor your father and mother. 6) Do not murder. 7) Do not commit adultery. 8) Do not steal [kidnap]. 9) Do not witness falsely. 10) Do not covet [be jealous of] your friend’s possessions. **Mount Sinai and Belief in God** The very fact that God came and spoke to the entire Jewish people at Mount Sinai is the greatest proof of the existence of God. Never in human experience has God spoken to approximately three million people [600,000 men, plus women and children] as He spoke to the Jews at Mount Sinai. If you are ever asked the question: “How do you know that there is a God?” The answer is: “my parents told me that all the Jews stood at Sinai and heard the Ten Commandments from God, and this fact my parents heard from their parents, and so on, going back all the generations right until the generation that stood at Sinai.” Once a year at the Passover Seder all Jews celebrate and recall the Exodus from Egypt and the stand at Sinai. Thus it stands as an undisputed historical fact. Witnesses are the most legal and scientific proof of any fact and, as mentioned, the Revelation at Sinai was witnessed by the entire Jewish people. **Love and Fear of God** The love of God motivates us to do all His 248 positive commandments [do’s]. Love of God is called _Ahavat Hashem_. The fear of God keeps us from transgressing any of the 365 negative commandments [don’ts]. Fear of God is called _Yirat Hashem_, (and is often referred to as _Yirat Shamayim_). God is our Father and our King. We must love Him as a Father and fear Him as a King. God’s name is so holy, we do not read it as it is written. The name YHVH we read _Adonai_. In conversation, we call God _Hashem_ — meaning “The Name”, referring to the Holy Name of God. **Reward for _Mitzvot_— The World to Come** For every good deed a person does he will be rewarded, and for every bad deed a person does he will be punished. The true reward for _mitzvot_ is not in this world, but in the World to Come. The World to Come is the world to which our souls go after we die. It is there that the soul is truly rewarded. It is often called _Gan Eden_ — The Garden of Eden. Many people ask: “Why do we see good people suffer and bad people prosper?” One of the answers is that God may be punishing the good people for their small amount of bad deeds in this world only to give them a huge reward for all their good deeds in the World to Come. The opposite is true of bad people. In the end, justice is done. **_Moshiach_** The word _Moshiach_ means “anointed”. In the olden days before a king assumed office, he was anointed with oil. So too, there will come a time in the future when a Jew who is both learned and a descendent of King David will be anointed as a king and will rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and gather all the Jews to Israel. This King is called _Moshiach_. In the days of _Moshiach_, there will be no wars or famine and everybody will have all they want. The Jews will be able to sit and study Torah in peace and the whole world will be full of the knowledge of God. The generation we are living in is the generation just before the coming of _Moshiach_ and we eagerly await his coming every day. We also do lots of _mitzvot_ to speed up the coming of _Moshiach_.

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1 Yaakov ben Chaim Tzvi = "I have had a "love affair" with science all my life. I've read books on Cosmology, String Theory, Physics, etc. and the more I learn about the universe, the clearer it becomes to me that an intelligent being created it. An example would be the mathematical concept known as the "Golden Ratio". Wikipedia - Adolf Zeising, whose main interests were mathematics and philosophy, found the golden ratio expressed in the arrangement of branches along the stems of plants and of veins in leaves. He extended his research to the skeletons of animals and the branchings of their veins and nerves, to the proportions of chemical compounds and the geometry of crystals, even to the use of proportion in artistic endeavors. In these phenomena he saw the golden ratio operating as a universal law. In connection with his scheme for golden-ratio-based human body proportions, Zeising wrote in 1854 of a universal law "in which is contained the ground-principle of all formative striving for beauty and completeness in the realms of both nature and art, and which permeates, as a paramount spiritual ideal, all structuresforms and proportions, whether cosmic or individual, organic or inorganicacousticor optical; which finds its fullest realization, however, in the human form."[In 2010, the journal Science reported that the golden ratio is present at the atomic scale in the magnetic resonance of spins in cobalt niobate crystals.Since 1991, several researchers have proposed connections between the golden ratio and human genome DNA.So basically, science has proven a symmetry contained in all life from the molecular scale, all the way up to the proportions of the human body. This symmetry is not consistent with life being formed by accident, for if that was the case, wouldn't all living things exhibit a random proportion and design? In my eyes (as well as many in the scientific community), the more one understands the universe the clearer it becomes that there was some sort of intelligent designer. http://articles.latimes.com/2009/nov/24/opinion/la-oe-masci24-2009nov24"