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It is not often known that in the past few centuries classical Judaism was not pure monotheism.The Jewish mysticism from the 12th to 16th centuries vitiated the faith's monotheism and gained dominance, only to be challenged by the Jewish Enlightenment.The most widely known is the 13 principles of faith by Maimonides, and is claimed by some as the definitive list of principles, although others disagree, claiming either that Maimonides' list contains a number of faults or rejecting the entire concept of principles of faith.

Maimonides delineated this understanding of a monotheistic, personal God in six articles concerning His status as the sole Creator, His oneness, His impalpability, that He is first and last, that God alone may be worshiped, and no other being, and that He is omniscient.These, like the apopathic views of Yeshayahu Leibowitz or the Feminist interpretation of Tamar Ross, had little to no influence on the mainstream.Orthodox Judaism affirms monotheism, the belief in one God.At a time when excessive contemplation in matters of belief was associated with secularization, luminaries such as Israel Meir Kagan stressed the importance of simple, unsophisticated commitment to the precepts passed down from the Beatified Sages.

This is still the standard in the ultra-Orthodox world.

According to David Bar-Hayim, the term "Orthodox Judaism" was coined as a response to the rise of Reform Judaism in early 19th century Germany.