“Ani Maamin” – “I Believe” – these are the first two words of each of the Thirteen Principles of Faith laid down by the Rambam (Maimonides) in the twelfth century. They are based, in turn, on Thirteen “Foundations” that appear in his “Peirush HaMishnayot,” “Explanations of the Mishnah” on Perek (Chapter) “Chelek.” The name of the chapter is based on the statement in Pirkei Avot, that each Jew has a share [a “chelek”] in the “World-to-Come.”
The “Principles of Faith,” the “Foundations,” and the corresponding “Ani Maamin’s” fall into three logical groupings:
1 – What we believe in terms of the Existence and the Nature of G-d (First through Fifth Principles)
2 – What we believe regarding the Authority and the Authenticity of the Torah, the nature of Prophecy in general and the Prophecy of Moshe Rabbeinu (Sixth through Ninth Principles)
3 – 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 (Tenth through Thirteenth Principles)
These foundations were summarized in brief form and made into a list of Thirteen Principles which the Rambam felt should be reviewed and contemplated every day.
The most famous of the “Ani Maamin’s” was put to music and sung out of the depths of their despair in the concentration camps of the Nazis, May HaShem erase their name, “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Mashiach…”
The list of the “Ani Maamin’s” was also rendered in poetic form, by an unknown author, and called “Yigdal,” which begins “Yigdal E-lohim Chai V’Yishtabach,” “May the Living G-d be exalted and praised.”