Some key teachings of Judaism are:
- God is one and cannot be divided.
- There is no need for intermediaries; anyone can pray directly to God.
- We are all born spiritually neutral (and sin is just a choice).
- Humans were created to help God complete creation; this is primarily done by bringing justice into the world.
- Humans are unique in all creation in that we have free-will. Not even angels have free will. This is what God meant when He said we were created in His image.
- It is not possible to atone for the mistakes of others.
- It is not possible to atone for mistakes not yet committed.
- God will never be man or son of man.
- Human sacrifice is an abomination.
- There is no such thing as original sin.
- There is no such thing as eternal damnation.
- Meshichim (messiahs) are mortal men with no supernatural aspects to them.
Orthodox Jewish Beliefs
There are certain basic beliefs that characterize Orthodox Judaism, although there is a fair amount of flexibility among the major Jewish thinkers.
- the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient God who created the world and remains active in history
- reward and punishment
- the divine nature of the Bible - the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings; plus the importance of the Oral Law
- the world-to-come
Judaism is a monotheistic faith; this means they believe in one God. Jewish people have a strong sense of community and feel that they are connected to one another no matter the distance. The religious text they use is referred to as The Torah; and they consider the 10 Commandments to be very important.
Jews believe in One God, who created everything and gave the Torah. Jews believe in the existence of the soul and afterlife.
In today's world, we have to keep in mind that the term 'Jewish' can relate to a religious belief or a nationality where there may be no religion involved. With this in mind, Judaism has branches just like most other religions. There is no 'creed' but there are 13 'core beliefs' stated by Maimonides's which many follow. They include One God as mentioned above and ends with a belief in a resurrection - to physical life again (see Ezekiel 37). Some believe in a shadowy existence after death with God. This is not quite the same as the heaven and hell concept of many Christian churches.
The philosophy of Judaism is that this world is a purposeful creation by God*, in which all people are tested concerning their use of free-will. We possess a soul which lives on after the body dies and is held responsible for the person's actions. Anyone who is worthy, Jewish or not, can merit reward in the afterlife.
Here is a list of the most basic beliefs of Judaism, as collated
1. God exists, and is the Creator.
This tells us that the world is not purposeless or chaotic. Life is the result of a deliberate, purposeful, intelligent and kind Creator; not a melancholy chaos or a string of fortuitous accidents.
2. God is One and unique.
This is the basis of all Western monotheistic belief, which was given to the world by Abraham and his descendants. This belief places God at the center of reality and of our world-outlook and thoughts.
3. God is not physical.
This includes the corollary that no person should be worshiped as God or as a god. Judaism has no god-kings, no demigods, no angel who flouts God's will, and no sports-idols, movie-idols etc.
4. God is eternal.
This includes the belief that God's ways are also eternal. God is not capricious, forgetful or fickle. Investing in a relationship with God is the only thing that will bear eternal benefits.
5. Prayer is to be directed only to God.
This also teaches us that no person, government or institution is to be accorded blind trust. We pray directly to God, three times a day; and we recount our shortcomings, ask for our needs, and acknowledge our successes with happy thanks.
6. The words of the prophets are true.
8. The Torah was given to Moses by God.
These two beliefs are the basis of our attitude towards the Torah: it is the center of our lives. Jews are keeping mitzvot (commands), saying blessings, praying, learning Torah and doing acts of kindness and charity all the time. The Torah is the single greatest thing that a Jew has; given to us to provide knowledge, guidance, inspiration, awe and reverence, advice, law, comfort, history and more. It is the basis of Judaism.
9. There will be no other Torah.
We Jews have been around for 3800 years. New fads, manifestos, beliefs or lifestyles which rear their heads are met by the Jew with a calm, seasoned eye and the proverbial grain of salt. The Torah doesn't change; and every new thing can be measured against the Torah's standards.
10. God knows the thoughts and deeds of all.
11. God rewards the good and punishes the wicked.
These two beliefs provide a vast incentive towards righteousness and, when needed, repentance.
They also form part of the basis of our belief in the afterlife, since this entire world wouldn't be enough to reward a Moses or punish a Hitler.
God is just (Deuteronomy 32:4); and all outstanding accounts are settled after this life.
12. The Messiah will come.
13. The dead will be resurrected.
Judaism is the only ancient religion which taught optimism; and a large part of that optimism was and is based upon the words of the prophets.