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    The First Principle

    plaque 10 commandmentsIn the Jewish enumeration the first principle of the Decalogue is “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt”.

    Chasdai Crescas said that no-one should regard this as a command to believe in God.

    He said that all the commandments are matters of free will. We keep Shabbat because we choose to keep Shabbat. We don’t kill, because we choose not to kill.

    This cannot apply to the existence of God. The Almighty’s existence: it is an objective fact whether we endorse it or not.

    Abravanel accepts this view but says that Principle Number 1 identifies the God who is addressing us in the other nine principles.

    Maimonides seems to say the opposite, that this is really a command to believe, but he adds a rider which makes all the difference, that this Principle does not tell us to believe in God’s existence but to recognise the fact that He exists.

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