Do any post Rambam halachic works or accepted poskim mention how the fundamentals effect halachic status of people or things? Do they discuss if halcha follows Rambam and his thirteen ikrim, or Seffer HaIkrim and his three? Is there a middle ground, such as you must believe the thirteen, but only the three have halachic ramifications?

To clarify, I am not looking for Machshava/Mussar/Kabbala works that mention what a person is required to believe and what his relationship with Hashem is based on these beliefs, whether in this world or the next. This would include a halchic work which for whatever reason chooses to mention fundamentals without mentioning their ramifications halachicaly. On the other hand a seffer which is officially considered Machshava/Mussar/Kabbala but mentions a halachic ramification of these beliefs would be acceptable.

The type of halachic discussions that I mean are, for example, this person believes this or doesn't believe this so now his halachic status is this. It can be about the person as pertains to others, such as if someone doesn't believe in Techias Hameisim he can or can't make kidush for you. Or as it pertains to himself, such as if he doesn't believe in Techias Hameisim he can or can't make Kidush for himself. Or you could or can't drink his wine, or he could or can't drink his wine. Just some examples.

And lets please not turn this into a discussion about the children of heretics being Anussim, let us assume we are discussing someone was raised properly who later in life decides to hold views not consistent with what are called the fundamentals.

Some related questions. Why don't we have a "shulchan aruch of forbidden beliefs"?

Why didn't the Tur discuss traditional Jewish philosophy?

  • An important common ramification is the permissibility of praying to intermediaries. This has certainly been discussed by subsequent works and is dependent on this machlokes on Rambam's ikkar (that one cannot).
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 0:26
  • @mevaqesh good point. An analysis of those opinions in all their various incarnations is in order. I think most people misread into the mishna berurah about kivrei tzadikim and don't understand what the Magen Avraham meant. But if you have any good maareh mikomos on the subject please feel free to put them together. Especially if you have outright discussions if the Rambam actually meant you can't ask a tzadik to pray for you, or he only meant inanimate intermediaries.
    – user6591
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 0:39
  • I actually meant praying to angels. Many Ashkenazi slichos, e.g. machnissei rachamim, malachei rachamim, etc. are addressed to angels against the ikkar of the Rambam. The question of whether to say them (and Barchuni l'shaom) and the like is discussed l'halacha.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 1:05
  • @mevaqesh Ah. Right.
    – user6591
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 1:24
  • Wait - are you asking about nafka minas of the fact that these are Ikarim, or nafka minas of different opinions who say different things are or aren't Ikarim? I thought you were asking the former - what the ramifications of being an Ikar is - but @mevaqesh suggested an example of something which might not be an Ikar and you accepted that as a ramification. So which do you want? Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 4:29

5 Answers 5


This question was asked to the Hatam Sofer (Yoreh De'ah 356):

ענין הויכוח אם יש י"ג עקרים או ג' כהר"י אלבו לא ידעתי שום נפקותא כ"א קריאת שם בלבד ולדעת המקובלים אין כאן עיקר כי כל קוצים של תורה הם עיקרים מה בין זה לזה

About the debate over whether there are 13 ikkarim or 3 like R. Yosef Albo, I know of no practical ramification, and according to the kabbalists there are no fundamentals, because every jot is a fundamental, what distinguishes one from another.

However, see this article for a possible nafka minah regarding whether espousing a position contrary to the Torah is yehareg ve'al ya'avor.

  • Sorry it took so long to upvote. I wanted to check it up inside. hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1839&st=&pgnum=294 his basic yisod seems to be we only have to believe what is in the Torah, not other ideas, logical or not, religious or not. Our belief in Moshiach and the geula is only due to it having been alluded to in parshas Nitzavim. I wonder what he would say to someone who believes in corporeality?
    – user6591
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 15:11

Rav Aharon Feldman, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Israel in Baltimore, was once returning to Baltimore on an early morning flight. He was leaving too early to daven with a minyan before he left, and he was not going to make it to Yeshiva in time for shacharis at Yeshiva. Therefore, it was arranged for nine bochurim to not daven at the Yeshiva minyan in order to make a minyan with the Rosh Yeshiva. However, one of the bochurim forgot and davened with the Yeshiva minyan.

They pulled aside one of the janitors of the Yeshiva who was a non-practicing Jew, and wanted to count him for the tenth. The Rosh Yeshiva asked him 3 questions - does he believe in G-d, did G-d give the Torah, and is there reward and punishment. The janitor answered in the affirmative, and so they counted him for the minyan.

So Rav Aharon Feldman seems to hold for practical application like the Sefer HaIkarim and not like the Rambam.

Source: one of the bochurim who was in that minyan told me about it later that day.

  • Wow. Very nice. This is a recent happening?
    – user6591
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 18:02
  • @user6591 it was at least 5 years ago. Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 18:05
  • Was the bochur who already davened not there?
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 18:05
  • @Yishai I don't know. But I assume he (the Rosh Yeshiva) either wanted to specifically have 10 who had not davened, or didn't want to take someone away from learning who had already davened. Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 18:06
  • @yEz, there is a big nafka mina between the two. If the former, he could have been lenient about the Ikkarim because it was an extra. If on the other hand he didn't want to take the Bochur away from learning, then he is more likely just paskening outright like the Sefer HaIkkarim.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 18:11

The Shulchan Aruch in Orach Chaim siman 126 discusses a shliach tzibur who accidentally skips ViLamalshinim, which makes him suspect to be a heretic for which we remove him from the amud.

The Mishna Berurah there #2 http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=49623&st=&pgnum=294 discusses the other blessings which center around fundamental beliefs and why we don't suspect someone who skips one of those.

But he paraphrases a Yeshuos Yaakov and writes 'know that it is apparent according to everyone that if we (actually) know that a certain person does not believe in revival of the dead, or does not believe in the Final Redemption, and certainly if he does not believe in the heavenly origins of the Torah or in payment and punishment, according to all he is an Apikores and may not be the shliach tzibur. And if he takes the position by force, we do not answer amen after his blessings. And see earlier siman 53 siff 18'.

The Mishna Berurah is obviously ruling like this Yeshuos Yaakov. I'm pointing this out to clarify before I quote his words.

The words of the Yeshuos Yaakov can be found here http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=9259&st=&pgnum=124 I will translate them. 'In the Yerushalmi it is explained that if he makes a mistake in 'Boneh Yerushalaim' and the bracha on 'Techias Hameisim' we remove him. This is not the opinion of our Shas (the Bavli). In truth though, it seems to me a Min is the name called to someone who does not believe in the reality of the singularity of God, and one who says Torah is not God given, and someone who does not believe in payment and punishment. These are the three first basic fundamental beliefs. As far as the other fundamentals explained in the Rambam, whoever denies them, even though he is a complete rasha, even still he is not excluded from being a member of this religion, as it says in the Seffer HaIkrim, first maamar. This was the reason to establish Malchios, Zichronos, and Shopharos. Malchios, for He is the singular KIng. Zichronos for payment and punishment. And Shopharos for Maamad Har Sinai, and Torah from Hashem. See there at length. Whoever believes in this is included in this religion. And certainly whoever does not believe in the other Ikrim or in any single idea from the Torah is a rasha who's punishment is great, even still he is included in the religion. Being included in the religion means he has a chezkas kashrus and therefore even if he makes a mistake in a different bracha for which we could assume he has machshavas chutz, since he says the blessing on the heretics and we see he is not a heretic, and included in the religious frame of mind, we keep him on his chazaka ans assume it was an accident or skipped 'Boneh Yerushalaim' by accident, but not God forbid that he has heretical ideas. But when he skips 'ViLamalshinim, and we suspect he has heretical thoughts, he has no chazaka, and we therefore suspect him of just that, and take him down'.

So there we have it. The Mishna Berurah quoting lihalacha the opinion of the Seffer HaIkrim as binding as far as being considered a Jew goes. And while it is true that one is a rasha if he doesn't believe the other Ikrim, at least he is included in the Jewish religion.

A final point, in light of the actual words of the Yeshuos Yaakov, the fact that the Mishna Berurah mentions techias hameisim is interesting, but can easily be construed to fit into gmul vi'onesh, payment and punishment. In fact it might even be a point of social commentary, where the Mishna Berurah went out of his way to mention a belief that was still wavering from the maskilim. In fact the Yeshuos Yaakov himself started his discussion by mentioning Techias Hameisim along with Boneh Yerushalaim, but later dropped Techias Hameisim and only focused on Boneh Yerushalaim, a bracha focused on the Ikar of the arrival of Moshiach, as seen in the Yerushalmi he is coming from.

  • Your Mishna Berura citation is incredibly inconclusive. The Mishna Berurah is discussing a Shaliach Tzibbur and the other blessings which he may skip that are included in apikorsus. Which other berachos of Shemoneh Esrei correspond to Rambam's Ikkarim? If anything, it is the opposite- the fact that he expanded the Yeshuos Yaakov to include every fundamental of the Rambam which is referred to in Shemoneh Esrei seems that he is going with the Rambam. Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 4:08
  • @YeZ the discussion about the Shatz is surrounding who to suspect, that is why we focus on him. A heretic is a heretic whether at the amud or in the back row. If anything your idea would prove the reverse. We are more stringent in suspecting a Shatz, and even still we only take him down for the three Ikrim.
    – user6591
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 15:33
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 21:32

The Maharal advocated saying "yachnisu" instead of "hachnisu" in the piyut "machnisei rachamim" to avoid praying to an intermediary which would be forbidden. Rav Moshe Feinstein in a responsum also said that he (and his father along with the rest of Volozhyn yeshiva) refrained from praying in language that addressed intermediaries. (Rav Moshe also has many responsa regarding halachik nafka minos of the status of Conservative Jews [e.g. validity of marriage, sharing synagogues, etc.]).

  • (Assuming I understood your question correctly...?)
    – Loewian
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 4:41
  • I guess i wasn't clear. I tried really hard. Righting and rewriting. If you can show me where someone mentions your case for instance of saying hachnisu, and rules 'and therefore being that plony said hachnisu, he can't make kiddush for you, or his wine is assur' Or if the ruling is 'even though he says hachnisu he can still make kidush for you and his wine is kosher'. that is what I am looking for.
    – user6591
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 12:26
  • Also rulings about conservative wouldn't help. He can't make kidush for me after he did a melacha deoraisa. Irrespective of his view of any ikrim. If someone keeps all the mitzvos but has a certain belief, that would be what im looking for.
    – user6591
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 12:38
  • Someone correct me if I'm wrong but, at least back then, I think a lot of Conservatives were shomer shabbos and the main issue was ideological (Torah Misinai).
    – Loewian
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 15:22
  • @Ioewian Im not an expert either But I think you are referring to the original reformers. Back in Europe. Conservative was a different movement. In any event Reb Moshe would have been talking about the ones in his times.
    – user6591
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 15:46

As far as limiting the discussion to exclude the children of heretics, many are of the opinion that they are the only people where the Ikarim have ramifications - someone who knowingly rejects any verse in the Torah, or any mitzvah, becomes a heretic. The import of the Ikarim is that they apply even to someone who simply isn't aware of them. See the answers to this question for more on that.

Based thereon, Even Sh'sia cites two halachic ramifications of someone not believing in the Ikarim.

The first is that if someone does not believe in the Ikarim, they should first be taught the Ikarim before teaching them to keep mitzvos. The Ikarim are the foundation for the mitzvos having any value, and therefore they should precede in education of someone willing to learn.

The second is that, according to the opinions that an unintentional heretic is not included in the category of Yisroel (he cites Abarbanel, and the "normative" understanding of R' Chaim Brisker for this), one should not make kiddush or berachos for them if you have already made for yourself, because they are not included in arvus since they aren't בכלל ישראל.

  • (Assuming I understood your question correctly...) Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 5:24
  • Even Sh'sia is written by who?
    – user6591
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 18:40
  • R' Bechhofer, a student of R' Yaakov Weinberg Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 20:00
  • Is his point of not being in klal yisroel and therefore not included in arvus a halakhic ruling or a 'according to these opinions a possible halakhic ramification would be etc'? I'm sorry for nit picking but since the tshuva revolution or whatever we would call these last number of decades, there have been a proliferation of works written on this subject, all taking for granted that we paskin like the Rambam. I am trying to figure out if that is true or not.
    – user6591
    Commented Feb 6, 2015 at 20:42
  • @user6591 As per your comments here (and the thrust of your own answer post), I think you should clarify your question- you are not looking for what the halachic ramifications are, but rather you are looking for someone to paskin according to those ramifications. Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 21:55

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