In trying to understand Orthodox Judaism better, I would like to know what constitutes the "minimum" or most basic collection of beliefs. As I understand, agreeing with the 13 Principles of Maimonides is a great start, but I am a little confused on the exact nature of belief about the Talmud. As well, how much of a margin is there for personal opinion? Thus, I would like to know:

What is the most basic collection of beliefs absolutely required for one to be considered Orthodox (esp. MO, and ignoring other, non-belief related requirements, such as one's actual practicing of mitzvot)?

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    God, Who gave us these binding laws, takes an active role in the world. – Double AA Jul 16 '14 at 0:25
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    It has nothing to do with belief. Actions speak louder than words. In accordance with Law, I believe that while a person's laxness within a specific area of law renders them not trustworthy in just that area, not observing the sabbath makes them untrustworthy in any matter of Jewish law. So Sabbath practical observance is the 'bottom line' of being considered an observant jew, generally. – Baby Seal Jul 16 '14 at 0:25
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    @DoubleAA, the way I see the binding of mitzvot is that it is the (active) conclusion resulting from a belief, that belief having to do more directly with Orthodoxy's view of the Talmud, of which I am not fully certain about. – Yochanan Michael Jul 16 '14 at 0:32
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    @sam despite its name, there are several key ideas missing from Yesodei HaTorah, that (according to the Rambam) one would still be a heretic without believing them. The actual list is in Hilchos Teshuvah – הנער הזה Jul 16 '14 at 3:58
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    Orthodox is a social definition if you want to study a group, you need a sociological study. If you speech ab about the princple of Maimonides, it is a problem of definition, see Sefer Haykarim about what is a principle ... A belief and a social position are specific of separated domain. Socially speaking, there is no place for beliefs, but for clothes, habits etc. Orthodox judaism is a reaction against haskala. But the Halacha is the same as for ever. – kouty Mar 3 '16 at 23:08

"Orthodox" as a label originated as a slur for the traditionally observant by the new Reform movements of the 19th century (Samson Raphael Hirsch, Religion Allied to Progress, in JMW. p. 198). Presumably, what you're asking is what beliefs are assumed to be incompatible with a Torah lifestyle even amongst the more open-minded of Torah personalities that represent the halachik MO movement. Probably the only clear cut guideline beyond Maimonides' 13 principles is a general tone of respect to the Talmudic sages and their views ("An Apikoros. Rav and R' Chanina both taught that this means one who disrespects a Talmid Chacham [Torah scholar].—Tractate Sanhedrin, 99b)


As far as the Talmud goes? The law within it is binding, and its legal interpretations of Biblical verses are of Biblical force.

  • But importantly, although rabbis are authorized to use derashot to invent new laws, these laws were not transmitted at Sinai, and can be overturned by later courts according to Rambam. Cf. Shoresh Sheni in Sefer HaMitzvot of Rambam and Hilchot Mamrim. This can be an miportant point for someone who grapples with "belief" in the Talmud. – mevaqesh Mar 4 '16 at 19:42

There is no minimum of beliefs. In theory to say you believe "this part" of the Torah but not "another part" of the Torah would be to reject the premise of the Torah being given to us by Gd which falls into being outside the scope of Judaism.

  • Belief in the Torah is one of the 13 core beliefs. "This part or that part" is not the issue. There are 12 more. The Akeidah states 3 core general beliefs. 1. That HaShem exists and 2. He gave us a way to live, expressed in the Torah, written and oral and 3. He cares whether we follow the Torah or not (therefore: reward or punishment.) Maimonides expands those 3 into 13 core specific beliefs. – R Yisroel Meir Vogel Mar 3 '16 at 22:21
  • It is relevant b/c even denying one letter of the Torah would be outside the scope of valid Judaism. – Dude Mar 3 '16 at 23:43

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