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    Relevance of Maimonides’ 13 Principles

    Q. Why are Maimonides’ 13 Principles of Faith so remote from today’s concerns?


    A. I can’t accept your assessment of Maimonides. God, prayer, prophecy, Torah, reward and punishment, Messiah, life after death – all are still on the agenda.

    Maimonides would probably argue that supposedly modern issues are subsumed in his list. He would say, for instance, that some people’s denial of halachah is covered by his presentation of the status of Torah: to him the Torah is eternal and binding and there cannot be a Judaism without it.

    He would probably say that the issue of Jewish identity is axiomatic to the whole list, that Jewish peoplehood cannot be authentic without God and religion.

    Even so, if he were writing in our era he might use different phraseology and place more emphasis on values – mitzvah, tz’dakah, shalom, covenant, etc. – and not so much on philosophical categories. He might also focus more on the Jewish people within history.

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