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    To know is to believe

    Every Jewish thinker had issues with Jewish belief.

    The way that most people understand Maimonides – or think they do – he seems like an exception. The credo “I believe with perfect faith” makes Maimonides a firm believer in belief.

    The problem is that it was not Maimonides who said these words: they were attached to his list of thirteen principles – probably centuries afterwards – by a later author. Maimonides himself did not speak about belief as much as knowledge.

    When Maimonides analyses the Ten Commandments he does not interpret Commandment Number One (“I am the Lord your God”) as “Believe!” but “Know!” His view is that when you know what God has done for Israel and mankind, your knowledge leads to belief – and even if it doesn’t, and you never become a believer, at least you have the knowledge.

    Jewish tradition always feared the ignoramus (the am ha’aretz) more than the heretic (the apikoros).

    Use your mind to learn and ponder the events of history, the teaching of the great personalities of the ages, the contents of the classical and modern works of wisdom, and gain the knowledge that tells you who you are and who God is, and that is beyond belief in importance.

    This thought explains why in the sequence of Creation, man came last. He arrived on the scene after a series of grand moments of Divine achievement, which provided him with enough material to stimulate his mind to think about the world and to recognise the greatness of the Creator.

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