Tenth of the Thirteen Principles of the Jewish Faith laid down by the Rambam in the twelfth century, and the first of the four principles relating to what we believe regarding G-d’s System of Rewards and Punishments for the individual, the ultimate Redemption of the Jewish People and of Humanity by the arrival of the Mashiach, and the Revival of the Dead.
“I believe with complete faith that the Creator, Blessed is His Name, knows all the deeds of human beings and their thoughts, as it is said, ‘He fashions their hearts all together, He comprehends all their deeds.’ ” (Tehilim 33:15)
In the “Peirush HaMishnayot,” The “Explanation of the Mishnayot” of the Rambam, he explains this principle as meaning that HaShem knows all aspects of the behavior of human beings, including their motivations. And this Truth is in direct contradiction to the false idea that “G-d has left the earth” but rather in accord with the idea found in Yirmiyahu (32:19), “The One Who is Great in Wisdom, and complete in understanding, Whose eyes are open to all the ways of Man.” Other verses that support this notion are “And HaShem saw that the evil of Man upon the earth was great.” (Bereshit 6:5) and His similar conclusion with regard to the residents of S’dom and Amora, “The cry that comes from S’dom and Amora is very great…” (Bereshit 18:20) Another verse mentioned in the Torah along the same lines involves HaShem’s observing and knowing the suffering of the Children of Israel in Egypt, “And the Almighty saw the Children of Israel, and the Almighty knew.” (Shemot 2:25)
This is a most fundamental principle of our Faith. For it declares that although HaShem is omniscient, and therefore He knows us inside-and-out, yet His knowledge of our thoughts and actions in the past, present and future, does not interfere with our Freedom-of-Will! This can only be understood from the perspective that the Knowledge that HaShem possesses, as the Creator of Time, is not in the realm of time, a concept “somewhat difficult” for us to grasp.
Another aspect of HaShem’s Knowledge of us is that He is always with us, by virtue of the fact that our “Neshamah,” our Soul, is called “A Lamp of G-d,” in the verse “A Lamp of G-d is the Soul of Man, searching out all his innermost depths.” (Mishlei 20:27) This is also in accord with the notion that the “Neshamah” is a “Chelek Elo-ha MiMa’al,” a “Part of G-d,” so to speak, from Above, and also with the idea that “les asar panui minei,” “There is no place where He is not;” including within ourselves.
The poetic rendering of this Principle in “Yigdal” is as follows:
“He sees and understands the secret aspects of our identity:
He sees the end of each thing at its very origin.”