The Karaite Korner
The Karaite "Declaration of Faith"

The Karaite Declaration of Faith, called Tuv Ta'am (after the first two words in Hebrew) has been recited in the Karaite Synagogue on High Holidays since at least the 13th Century, with an abridged version being recited twice daily. The Karaite "Declaration of Faith" consists of a series of statements read aloud by the Hazan (cantor). The congregation responds to each statement by emphatically shouting Emet! meaning "Truth!". The Karaite "Declaration of Faith" includes the main principles and practices which give Karaism its unique character including:

  • The uniqueness and oneness of YHWH as God and Creator.
  • The truth of the Torah given to Moses.
  • The perfect nature of the Torah which requires no additions or supplement (i.e. the Rabbanite Oral Law is extraneous).
  • The concept of an ultimate reward for those who keep the Torah.
  • The holiness of the Temple in Jerusalem and its status as a place to turn in prayer.
  • The beginning of months in the Biblical calendar according to the visibility of the Crescent New Moon
  • The beginning of years in the Biblical calendar according to the state of the barley crops (Abib) in the Land of Israel.
  • The truth and prophetic nature of the entire Hebrew Bible.
  • The truth and holiness of the Biblical Holidays and Feasts.
  • The eternal nature of God who rules the universe.
  • The concept of an Eschatological or "Messianic" Era in which all mankind will worship the one true God, YHWH.

A Translation of the Karaite
"Declaration of Faith"
(Tuv Ta'am)

Teach me good judgment and knowledge; for I believe in your commandments. (Ps 119,66)

Believe in YHWH your God and you will be established; believe in His prophets and you will prosper. (2Chr 20,20)

And they believed in YHWH and in Moses His servant. (Ex 14,31)

YHWH is our God, our Creator, our Redeemer, our Maker, our Holy One, he is unique in the Universe: Truth!

And Moses is His servant, His prophet, His messenger, His desired one, His chosen one, His beloved faithful emissary with signs and wonders: Truth!

And His Torah is perfect, sound, pure, right, clear, enlightening to the eyes, gladdening to the heart, soothing to the soul, teaching wisdom to the simple, and it is more pleasant than gold and much fine gold and sweeter than honey and nectar, and beneficial to those who keep it and those who fulfill it get much reward: Truth!

And His Temple is the House of Prayer, the House of Worship, the House of Sacrifice, the House of Pilgrimage-Feasts, the Temple of the King YHWH of Hosts in Jerusalem the Holy City: Truth!

And the moon in its renewal, in its visibility, in its appearance to the eye in the evening at the time of its testimony, after being hidden, is a reliable witness in heaven, Sela, a valid sign and an indication for the beginning of months according to the word of God: Truth!

And the Abib which is found in the Land of Israel in its time, in its manner, in its nature, is a valid sign and an indication for the beginning of years for pilgrimages, feasts, and holidays, according to the word of the God of Hosts: Truth!

And His prophets and His messengers and His emissaries and His seers and His angels which prophesy and which are sent in truth and righteousness: Truth!

And His holidays: Truth!

And Holy Convocations: Truth!

And [insert formula for appropriate Holiday, see below]: Truth!

(the Feast of Unleavened Bread for Seven Days/

the Seventh (Day) of Assembly [last day of Hag HaMatzot]/

the Feast of Weeks and Day of First Fruits/

the Day of Shouting on the First of the Seventh Month/

the Feast of Booths for seven days/

the Eighth (Day) of Assembly [last day of Sukkot])

And His commandments and His statutes and His testimonies and His judgments and all His words: Truth!

And YHWH is a true God; He is the living God and King of the Universe;

At His wrath the earth trembles; and the nations can not stand up to His fury. (Jer 10,10)

And do not entirely remove the true word from my mouth, for I hope for your judgments. (Ps 119,43)

And it will be that YHWH will be King over all the Earth and on that day YHWH will be one and His name will be one. (Zech 14,9)

YHWH lives forever; Your God, Oh Zion, from generation to generation, Praise Yah! (Ps 146, 10)

Your kingdom is an eternal kingdom; and your rule is in every generation. (Ps 145,13)

For the kingdom belongs to YHWH; and he rules the nations. (Ps 22,29 [28])

YHWH is King, YHWH has [always] been king,

YHWH will be king forever and ever. (Ex 15,18)

Blessed be YHWH forever: Amen and Amen. (Ps 89,53 [52])

[Translated from the Hebrew by Nehemia Gordon based on Karaite Siddur, Volume 2, Vienna 1854, p.110 (Hebrew); reprinted in Karaite Siddur, Volume 2, Ramleh 1977, pp.208-209 (Hebrew)]

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