No matter what denomination of Judaism one ascribes to, the number one basic theological concept is the existence of one God. God is defined as omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. God is the creator of heaven and earth, the supreme judge, and the one and only deity.
God has always existed and always will exist. It is the Jewish belief that since the moment that God breathed life into Adam, humanity's sole purpose in life has been service to God. God commanded Noah to build an ark and sent the flood, commanded Abraham to go to the Land of Canaan, brought the Israelites out of the Land of Egypt, gave us the Torah at Sinai, and brought us to the Land of Israel.
Names of God
- See main article: Names of God
God has many names, some of which are considered holy, some of which are euphamisms for the holier names The names that are considered holy are not to be taken in vain, and special care must be used when disposing of anything upon which they are written. Many Jews tend to hyphenate God's name in English as well, making it "G-d", and some Jews don't even use it in conversation preferring "HaShem" meaning literally "the Name".
Interpretations and Portrayals of God
Perhaps the most famous of interpretations of God is Maimonides's Thirteen Principles of Faith, which include such things as belief in prophecy, and denial of God having any physical form. Despite this, many Kabbalistic texts refer to things such as "the hand of God" or "the head of God". Most Jewish philosophers tend to interpret such portrayals as purely metaphorical, thus dispelling any conflict between the Kabbalistic texts and the words of Maimonides.
Relating to God
One of the biggest challenges in Judaism is the struggle to develop a relationship with God, both in a personal sense and in the grander communal sense. In the times of the Bible, people would bring sacrifices to show their closeness with God.citation needed Later, during the times of the Temple, certain sacrifices were brought by the community as a whole,citation needed and certain sacrifices were brought by an individual seeking repentancecitation needed or showing gratitude.citation needed Since the Destruction of the Temple, the practice of prayer has replaced sacrifice,citation needed as it is forbidden to bring sacrifices anywhere other than the Temple.citation needed Prayers, much like the sacrifices of the Temple, can be either private and communal.citation needed
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