The First Foundation: God made everything

The tenth chapter of the Mishnaic tractate Sanhedrin is called Chelek, meaning a portion as in “All Jews have a portion in the World to Come…” (There are, however, certain exceptions.) In his commentary on the Mishna, the Rambam elaborates on the bases of the Jewish faith. His descriptions of the foundations of Judaism have been summarized in prose and poetry by many hands. Two of these appear in our Siddurim as the list of “Ani Maamins” and as Yigdal.

The first foundation of the Jewish faith is that God created the universe and everything in it. The idea that there’s no God is literally unthinkable to us. He requires nothing to exist, but everything else depends on Him. To inform us of this, He has told us in the Torah, “I am Hashem, your God” (Exodus 20:2). Recognizing God is the very first of the “Ten Commandments.”

In the Ani Maamins, this foundation is phrased, “I believe wholeheartedly that God created and rules over all things. He alone has made, makes and will make all works.”

In Yigdal, it is the first line, which reads “Yigdal Elokim chai v'yishtabach; nimtza v'ein eis el m'tziuso” – “May the living God be exalted and praised; He exists unbounded by time.”