The Rambam laid down 13 principles of faith (ikkarim) in his commentary on Sanhedrin 10:

  1. God exists and created everything,
  2. God is One,
  3. God has no body,
  4. God is eternal,
  5. God alone should be worshiped,
  6. God revealed Himself through the prophets,
  7. Moses was the greatest of prophets,
  8. The Torah we have today is the very same one God gave us on Mount Sinai,
  9. The Torah will never change,
  10. God knows all our actions,
  11. God rewards good and punishes evil,
  12. The Messiah will come; and
  13. The dead will be resurrected.

What surprises me is that there is no mention of the Oral Law. Sure, it is implied in the 13th, but the Rambam could have made it crystal-clear, considering how important that point is, say by changing the 8th to:

  1. The Torah we have today, both Written and Oral, is the very same one God gave us on Mount Sinai.

Why didn't he do it? Was he deliberately ambiguous? Back in my native Egypt he was surrounded by Karaites who denied the Oral Law, but he fought them tooth and nail, so I doubt he was being ambiguous to win them over.

So what is the answer?

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    The statement The Torah we have means both the written and the Oral Torah. It does not require an explicit statement. May 19, 2020 at 2:45
  • Oh, but it does. Especially here. To make the point loud and clear, you don't let your reader "infer". May 19, 2020 at 2:47
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    In the 8th he does say so explicitly, see his full statement in Peirush Hamishnah before Perek Chelek in Maseches Sanhedrin "וכמו כן פירש התורה המקובל ג"כ מפי הגבורה" etc. See there, it is clearly stated.
    – MichoelR
    May 19, 2020 at 3:22
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2 Answers 2


The premise of your question is incorrect. In the 8th principle the Rambam explicitly mentions the oral law.

Perhaps you were referring to the Ani Maamin formulation found in the siddur. That was not written by the Rambam and generally is not a great summary of what he actually writes. You are correct that the 8th Ani Maamin does not mention the oral law. It also misses several other key aspects that the Rambam mentions and adds ideas that he does not say. In other words, the 8th Ani Maamin is probably the least accurate of all of them when compared with what the Rambam actually says.

An interesting side note: the 6th Ani Maamin is also widely divergent from what the Rambam says. Rambam merely requires belief in prophecy. The ani maamin adds that prophets are infallible and always speak the truth. In fact, according to how the Abarbanel understood the third chelek of Moreh Nevuchim that prophets sometimes make mistakes, the Rambam would not even accept this as true, let alone think it is an Ikkar.

  • At the very end of his long section on the eighth principle the Rambam does indeed add: "All this is also true for the explanation of the Torah, which was also received from the mouth of the Almighty." I view this as a rather weak endorsement, which I still think is somewhat strange. This was the place where he should have hammered the point loud and clear, but didn't. May 19, 2020 at 5:53
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    @MauriceMizrahi Maybe you should have stated that in the question, instead of giving the readers the distinct impression you were unaware of what Rambam actually wrote in his commentary on Sanhedrin 10.
    – Tamir Evan
    May 19, 2020 at 6:13
  • @MauriceMizrahi "This was the place where he should have hammered the point loud and clear, but didn't". Loud and clear for who? What readers of his commentary on the Mishanh were there (at his time), that thought that 'Torah' might not include the Oral Torah, and glossed over where he wrote that the received interpretation (Perush ha-Torah ha-Mequbal) is also included in this principal, that would benefit from him hammering it home there?
    – Tamir Evan
    May 19, 2020 at 7:27
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    "I view this as a rather weak endorsement, which I still think is somewhat strange." No moving the goalposts! Nothing weak about it: he is including the oral Torah in everything he said before.
    – MichoelR
    May 19, 2020 at 9:56
  • We are arguing over perceptions. Remember that our tradition always assumes the average passer-by or casual reader has the IQ of a turnip. The Rambam has a clear and terse lead phrase for each principle, followed by a long explanation. The Oral Law just doesn't leap at you. It is buried near the end of one of these long explanations in an "oh, yes, and by the way" fashion. I am just wondering why. May 19, 2020 at 11:19

See principle number 8. The Oral Torah and Written Torah both comprise the Torah

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    You should show the full quote. May 20, 2020 at 15:34
  • @sabbahillel The other answer (or the question, for that matter) hasn't shown the full quote, either. Why pick on @ChofetzChaim for that?
    – Tamir Evan
    May 21, 2020 at 4:14

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