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I teach Jewish Studies to primarily non-Jewish college students. One of my students referred to Judaism as a "faith." I associate the term "faith" with Christianity since it is premised on belief, whereas Judaism is premised on action and adherence to mitzvot. Is it wrong to refer to Judaism as a "faith"?

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  • Welcome @Noa, I've heard it said many times that Judaism doesn't idealise having "faith" that God exists, but we should a) know that He exists, and b) get to know Him. The hebrew word most often translated as faith "emuna" actually means faithfulness. This leads to the contention that Judaism isn't a religion at all, and even if it has somewhat become one over the millenia of exile, that's not it at its healthiest, but rather when it's simply just a people and their God, in a relationship
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 9:50
  • What do you mean by "a faith"?
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 11:13
  • Its an interesting point, because whereas in other religions believing in their deity makes you a member of that religion, in Yiddishkeit one can be a non-Jew, and still believe in and serve the one G-d, creator of the whole universe, the G-d of our forefathers. Being Jewish, though, adds on another layer - we are also a nation, 'am yisrael', Hashem's chosen nation. But we are not just a nation, because we are also commanded to keep the 613 commandments that were given to us in the Torah. So we aren't just another religion, we are G-d's chosen nation, who He chose to give us the Torah.
    – Kovy Jacob
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 23:52

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The practice of Judaism involves both faith and action.

Judaism starts with faith and belief in the truth of the Torah; which then should lead to adherence to its commandments.

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First of all, welcome to Mi Yodeya!

Judaism is predicated on faith and action together, involving the whole of man. The claim that Judaism only cares about actions, while commonly repeated, is false. A few quick sources:

The classic work "Duties of the Heart" directly discusses the need to have faith in his introduction. He brings many sources from the Torah to show the centrality of faith.

Maimonides starts his classic halachic work Mishna Torah with a discussion of the necessary beliefs. He later writes that heretics have no portion in the world to come.

The need for belief is reiterated in the definitive work of Jewish philosophy, Derech Hashem.

The commandment to believe in G-d and his Oneness are listed as commandments one and two out of the Taryag/613 commandments by Rambam, Ramban, Sefer HaChinuch, Semag, and Semak.

So, in summary, it is absolutely appropriate to refer to Judaism as a faith.

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    Oddly enough, the people who claim Judaism is all about action tend to practice it the least. Those who actually do try to live by the actions of Judaism do it out of their faith.
    – N.T.
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 7:42

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