What Do Jews Believe?
Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Their sacred text, the Hebrew Bible, teaches several doctrines - such as those about God, the Messiah, human beings, and the universe - making beliefs very important to Jews. Judaism has no official creed, however.
Judaism shares some beliefs with other world religions, like monotheism with Christianity and Islam, but in other respects there are sharp differences between the faiths. (Compare Judaism, Christianity, and Islam on one massive chart.)
It is important to understand that 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 of Judaism. (See Judaism Facts and Judaism symbols.)
|The 13 Articles of Faith
As noted above, Judaism has no creed and beliefs of individual Jews can vary widely. However, the great 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 core Jewish beliefs.
|Jewish Beliefs about God
In Judaism, ultimate reality is a single, all-powerful God. It is this belief that made the Jews unique among other ancient Semitic peoples and that became the legacy Judaism has passed on to the entire Western world. God's name in Hebrew is YHWH, which simply - but significantly - means "I am."
|Jewish Beliefs about the Messiah
Many of the world's religions have hope in a future heroic figure who will rescue the righteous, judge the wicked, and restore peace to the world (Krishna in Hinduism, Maitreya in Buddhism and the Second Coming of Christ in Christianity). In Judaism, this figure is the Messiah.
|Jewish Beliefs about Human Nature
When Genesis 2:7 says "God formed man," it uses the Hebrew word vayyitzer ("formed"). The Talmud finds special meaning in the unique spelling of the word in this context, with two yods instead of one. The two yods, the rabbis explain, stand for the two impulses found in humans: the yetzer tov and the yetzer ra.
|Olam Ha-Ba: Jewish Beliefs about the Afterlife
Jewish sacred texts and literature have little to say about what happens after death, which may seem surprising to non-Jews since the sacred texts of Christianity and Islam, both of which have their foundations in Judaism, elaborate rather fully about the afterlife.
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