The Thirteen Principles of Faith: A Chasidic Viewpoint

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Maimonides’ thirteen principles, which he described as the roots and foundations of the Jewish religion, first appeared in his Commentary on the Mishnah as an introduction to the final chapter of the tractate Sanhedrin.

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Maimonides’ thirteen principles, which he described as the roots and foundations of the Jewish religion, first appeared in his Commentary on the Mishnah as an introduction to the final chapter of the tractate Sanhedrin. They were subsequently abbreviated and were later appended to many versions of the daily prayer book. To this day, they constitute one of the clearest statements of Jewish belief ever written. In chasidic literature, the thirteen principles have received a scholarly and methodical analysis. This volume is based on the teachings and writings of several of the most prominent chasidic masters, notably those of the Lubavitch dynasty. Each principle is treated as a meditation, a soul-illuminating insight into the very depths of one’s being, the nature of God and His teachings, and the Torah. This work is not an exposition but rather an expedition into the thirteen principles of faith. Chasidic philosophy views all of Torah as a manifestation of God Himself. Thus the thirteen principles are not merely descriptive, a philosophical statement of lofty Jewish ideals. Their intention is experiential: they are intended to be an encounter with ourselves, with the axioms upon which we base our lives, with the wisdom of God, and ultimately, as a happy encounter with God Himself.

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