The Thirteen Principles

13“The outstanding medieval Jewish philosopherMaimonides (Moses ben Maimon; or Rambam, from the initials of Rabbi Moses ben Maimon), 1135-1204, was physician to the Sultan Saladin and communal leader of Egyptian Jewry, as well as an important figure in the codification of Jewish law. His formulation of the basic principles of Judaism in a series of 13 creedal affirmations, in the hope of clarifying the differences between Judaism and both Islam and Christianity, occasioned great controversy when it was first composed; it has since been accepted widely and incorporated into most Jewish prayer books.” 

Maimonides first set down the Thirteen Principles in his commentary on the Mishnah, Sanhedrin 10. There he called them “roots” or “fundamentals” of Jewish beliefs and of the Torah. 

The Sabbath morning (Shacharit) hymn “Yigdal” [“May he be magnified”], found in Ashkenazi prayer books, is based on the Thirteen.

The following Hebrew text and English translation of the Thirteen Principles were rekeyed from: Joseph H. Hertz, The Authorized Daily Prayer Book (rev. ed.) (New York: Bloch Pub. Co., 1948), pages 248-255. [Each Hebrew & English principle pair is a separate JPG that may be downloaded.]