GOOD MORNING! Last week we completed the first section (The Nature of the Belief in God) of Maimonides' Thirteen Principles of Belief. As I mentioned last week, Rambam, Moses Maimonides (1135- 1204), is well-known and revered by Jews across the board as a Jewish philosopher and scholar. He formulated The 13 Principles of Jewish Belief as the essential beliefs required of every Jew. They are found in almost every prayer book and are accepted as the unambiguous creed of Judaism. Immediately below is the second section -- The Authenticity, Validity and Immutability of the Torah. Each principle begins with the words "I believe with complete belief ..."
- ... That all the words of the prophets are true. (The words of the prophets are the words of God and, therefore, true and incumbent upon us).
- ... That the prophecy of Moses our teacher was true and that he was the father of the prophets -- both those who preceded him and those who followed him. (Moses' prophecy was unique -- no other prophet could claim to supersede the prophecy of Moses).
- ... That the entire Torah now in our hands is the same one that was given to Moses. (The whole Torah was dictated by God to Moses, word by word, letter by letter and it has not been changed, mutated, or edited).
- ... That the Torah will not be exchanged nor will there be another Torah from the Creator. (The Written Law -- The Five Books of Moses, and the Oral Law -- the explanation of the Written Law, were given by God, Who is not a man who changes his mind. It was given once and no other book will replace it).
The third and final section of Maimonides Thirteen Principles of Belief is -- Man's Responsibility and Ultimate Reward. There are 4 principles in this section. Each principle begins with the words "I believe with complete belief..."
- ... That the Creator knows all the deeds of human beings and their thoughts. (Man's individual deeds are important to God and so are the hopes and thoughts that drive him. He is aware of everything man thinks and does).
- ... That the Creator rewards with good those who observe His commandments, and punishes those who violate His commandments. (No deed goes unrewarded or unpunished; one cannot cancel out a bad deed with a good one. Each is treated independently).
- ... In the coming of the Mashiach (Messiah), and even though he may delay, nevertheless I anticipate every day that he will come. (Every generation has within it the power to perfect the world and bring Mashiach; the world is our responsibility -- we must do our utmost to be righteous and do righteousness. If we do not succeed, eventually God will bring Mashiach and completion to our efforts. It is the duality of personal responsibility and trust in God which has led the Jewish people to so much accomplishment and has kept us sane throughout the persecutions of history.)
- ... That there will be a resuscitation of the dead whenever the will emanates from the Creator. (The dead will live again in the Messianic era, when the world will attain a new spiritual and physical level of perfection.)
I know that some of the principles of belief seem strange or different than you have ever learned. Personally, until I was 22 years old I never met a Jew who knew that the Jews believe in a World to Come, a heaven and a hell. I highly suggest that you read Fundamentals and Faith by Rabbi Yakov Weinberg and/or Maimonides' Principles -- The Fundamentals of Jewish Faith by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. If you cared enough to read this fax, you owe it to yourself to know what we the Jewish people have believed in these past 3,000 years! Both are available from your local Jewish book store or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242.
Portion of the Week
Pharaoh dreams of cows and sheaves and demands for someone to interpret his dreams. The wine butler remembers Joseph's ability to interpret dreams. They bring Joseph from the jail. Pharaoh acknowledges the truth of Joseph's interpretation (that there would be seven good years followed by seven years of famine) and raises Joseph to second-in-command of the whole country with the mandate to prepare for the famine.
Ten of Joseph's brothers come to Egypt to buy food, Joseph recognizes them, but they don't recognize him. Joseph accuses them of being spies and puts them through a series of machinations in order to get them to bring his brother Benjamin to Egypt. Then Joseph frames Benjamin for stealing his special wine goblet. Next week ... the denouement!
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states, "And (Joseph) took and sent portions to them from before him; and Benjamin's portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank and became inebriated with him" (Genesis 43:34). Why does the Torah tell us that they drank and why does it tell us that they drank after relating to us that Joseph gave Benjamin five times as much as he gave to each of them?
Rashi comments that from the day that Joseph's brothers sold him they didn't drink wine, but on this day they drank. They didn't recognize Joseph and were unaware that the Egyptian administrator whom they were dealing with was Joseph. Why did they drink?
One answer is that the brothers saw that although Benjamin received five times as much as they did, they did not feel envious of him. From this they understood that they had corrected the main fault that had led to their selling their brother Joseph. They were previously envious of Joseph and this led to their hating him. They had overcome the trait of envy and were thus able to drink wine again.
Whenever you see improvement in your character traits, feel great joy. This joy will motivate you to continue improving. Be aware of what harm your negative traits caused you in the past and feel grateful for overcoming them. Knowing that you have already been successful will give you the encouragement to work on correcting other faults!
CANDLE LIGHTING - December 14:
(or go to http://aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:17 Hong Kong 5:23 Honolulu 5:33
J'Burg 6:36 London 3:33 Los Angeles 4:27
Melbourne 8:19 Miami 5:14 Moscow 3:38
New York 4:11 Singapore 6:43
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Envy is to the heart
what blindness is to the eye.
In Honor of