Yeshaya Perek 32
Many of the commentators (from R’ Sadia Gaon to Abarbanel) laid down Ikarim or ‘Principles of Faith’, ideas so central to Judaism that without them Judaism would be rendered meaningless. The most famous Ikarim was the Rambam’s 13 principles of faith, but it was not by any means the only one.
Although we don’t find any earlier authorities laying down Ikarim, we do find a fascinating Mishna in the 11th chapter of Sanhedrin – also known as “Perek Cheilek” - which is clearly the source of the Rambam’s Ikarim:
“All of Yisrael have a portion in Olam Haba… and the following don’t have a portion in Olam Haba; One who says that there is no [proof of] techiyas hameisim [in] the Torah, and Torah does not come from Heaven, and the Apikores….” [Sanhedrin 90a]
We see from here that there are three beliefs for which one can lose Olam Haba:
1) Denying Hashem’s existence - Being an apikores.
2) Denying Torah Min Hashamayim – denying the Divine origin of the Torah.
3) Denying Techiyas HaMesim – rejecting the future resurrection of the dead.
Based on this Mishnah Rav Yosef Albo laid down 3 Ikarim:
1) Existence of G-d
2) Torah Min Hashamayim
3) Reward and Punnishment/Hashgacha
Judaism could not exist without these three components. Belief in G-d is obvious, for without it there is no meaning to anything which we do. We have to know what G-d wants from us and expects us to do. If no communication between Hashem and ourselves exist, everything becomes fanciful guesswork. If G-d is not interested in little ‘me’ and there are no consequences to my actions, then religious activity is simply a charade.
Interestingly, this is hinted at in Yeshaya 32:22:
“Ki Hashem Shofteinu, Hashem Mechokekeinu, Hashem Malkeinu – Hu Yoshiainu”
“For Hashem our judge Hashem our lawgiver, Hashem our king – He will save us”.
Each of these 3 descriptions of G-d refers to one of the 3 Ikarim of Rav Yosef Albo:
Hashem’s kingship is the acknowledgement that Hashem exists and is omnipotent.
Hashem as a lawgiver shows His authorship of the Torah; this shows the concept of Torah Min HaShamayim.
Hashem as our judge requires that He Rewards and Punishes us.
These 3 ideas are the most fundamental concepts in Judaism. The following parable illustrates how these are all interlinked.
A group of scientists constructed a huge, complex rocket to investigate minerals on a distant star that would take hundreds of years to reach. They sent a number of families in the rocket to repopulate the rocket over the centuries. For the first 40 years, the first generation passed information onto the next generation how to manoeuvre the rocket, why they were on board, what the trajectory of the spacecraft was to be, etc. The next generation, too, told their children “Look, we’ve never been to earth, but that is where we come from. We’ve never seen this star, but that is where we are headed. We know that if we press the green button, the ship turns left, and the red one makes us go right. This lever does this, and that button increases oxygen etc.” After 100 years, the great great grandchildren called a meeting, where it was decided there was no such place as earth, no distant star, and no meaning in how or why they should turn the ship in any particular direction. They believed they were alone in the universe. The ship then veered from its course. Fifty years later, a child found pictures of the earth and so the people on the rocket re-established connection with NASA, corrected their route, and eventually they arrived at the star.
We were created in a time where the universe recognized Hashem’s Kingship (Creation). We are headed to a time period where once again we will see Hashem’s Kingship (Mashiach). We have been given the instructions manual of how we are to get there – the Torah. We need to keep our eye on the ball at all times.