Know that God Exists

Shmot [Exodus] 20:2.

Know that God exists. That is the principal mitzva of the affirmative mitzvot — the basic imperative or commandment we use to build a relationship with G!d.

Mitzvot are transpersonal morals binding me to G!d. These morals inform interpersonal ethics that bind me socially to other people.
Transpersonal morality is designated by the Hebrew…

בּן אדם למקוֹם

Between G!d and Humanity

Interpersonal ethics is designated by the Hebrew…

בּן אדם לחברוֹ

Between People

Rambam does not preface the other taryag mitzvot this way. The very notion of a “principal” mitzva is not well-supported in Jewish tradition, for no single mitzva is more or less important than any other.

Here is an exception, for the very notion of mitzvot cannot be separated from the very notion of G!d.

Rambam’s mitzva is to know that G!d Exists, not to believe in G!d, and neither does he state that worship is mandatory, though see other imperatives in this collection for greater clarity.

Reb Arie

A chaplain, spiritual director, and educator, Arié Chark (“Reb Arie”) is Rector at The Metivta of Ottawa. A strong sense of personal mission has led Reb Arie to convene various civil society projects under the auspices of The Metivta of Ottawa, including the Ottawa Roundtable and the Abrahamic Chaplaincy Board.