What does it mean to have faith in our wise sages (אמונת חכמים)?

  • As I understand, it means that if a Chacham makes a halachic decision or offers advice or guidance, we implicitly trust him b/c he is a Chacham. We do not doubt what he says or question how or why he says it. I question your use of the "source" tag, as you are not asking for the source in your question. I suggest you edit the question or delete the tag.
    – DanF
    Aug 18 '15 at 19:00
  • I think it means simple people need to respect the wise ones, and trust them, they are learning for you, not, being like I did not learn this and I do not believe you and what you are saying is probably just maid up by you,
    – hazoriz
    Aug 18 '15 at 19:09
  • See he.wikipedia.org/wiki/… (if you dont like the Hebrew you can always try translate.google.com)
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 19 '15 at 1:17
  • related somewhat judaism.stackexchange.com/q/28773/1857
    – ray
    Aug 19 '15 at 5:43
  • imgur.com/a/2oykb if anyone wants to read this chapter and write a summary go right ahead Oct 22 '15 at 20:53

The Machzor Vitry (429) writes that this means believing the rabbis, unlike the Sadducees who denied the Oral Law.

באמונת חכמים. שמאמין בדבריהם. ולא כצדוקי' ובייתוסין

This is a very limited explanation which could certainly be interpreted as referring to acceptance of only the most basic structure of the Oral Law. This might not include the likes of personal advice.

The Beit Mordechai (vol. 2 #28) notes the aforementioned Machzor Vitry and emphasizes the implication that the statement pertains to acceptance of the Oral Law.

במחזור ויטרי פירוש לאבות ע' 560 "באמונת חכמים: שמאמין בדבריהם, ולא כצדוקין ובייתוסין". ובעקבותיו במדרש שמואל לאבות שם: כלומר, שיאמין בכל מה שיאמרו חז"ל כאילו ניתנו למשה בסיני, ועל זה נאמר לא תסור מן הדבר אשר יגידו לך ימין ושמאל, כלומר שמקבל ומכיר במדרש חכמים, מפני שזהו היסוד לתורה שבעל פה. ע' ברכות יא, ב: למקרא צריך לברך, ולמדרש אין צריך לברך. ופרש"י ד"ה מדרש: הוא קרוב למקרא כגון מכילתא, ספרא וספרי שהם מדרשי מקראות.

Rabbi Yosef al-Ashkar (15th-16th cent.) suggest two explanations (in his Mirkevet Hamishneh to Avot ch. 6). First that a student should not reveal his teacher's secrets:

אמונת חכמים, י"ל שהרב אין ראוי מי שיגלה סודו, כ"ש שאחד גילה מילתא דאיתמר בבי מדרשא לסוף תרתין ועשרין שנין, ואפקיה ר' אמי מבי מדרשא, ואכריזו עליה דין מגלי רזייא (סנהדרין לא ע"א). ואם כך לתלמיד, ק"ו לרב, שאין ראוי לו לגלות הסוד.

(I admit that I do not understand this explanation exactly).

His second explanation is that one should rely on rabbinic guidance and not rule exclusively based on one's own thoughts.

או י"ל שיאמין בדברי חכמים ובהוראתם, ואעפ"י שיהיה חכם גדול לא יסמוך על הוראתו

See also here.


Rashi on Deut. 17:11 "Even if they tell you your right hand is your left..."

i.e. it makes no sense to you, nevertheless trust them and do what they say. see here for more.

likewise in the Chovos Halevavos Gate 5 ch.5

Be careful that your steps not stray from the path of the forefathers and the path of the early ones towards a new path you have devised, and be careful to not rely on your intellect nor to take counsel only with yourself. Do not reason on your own. Do not distrust your forefathers in the tradition they bequeathed to you as to what is good for you. Do not reject their advice in what they taught you

  • 1
    Do these comments relate to halacha? hashkafa? personal advice?
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 18 '15 at 21:26
  • 1
    The question was about the phrase "אמונת חכמים". Can you edit to clarify how you know that these important sources are discussing אמונת חכמים?
    – msh210
    Aug 18 '15 at 21:30
  • 1
    Contrast the Yerushalmi that derives the opposite idea...
    – Loewian
    Aug 19 '15 at 3:12
  • @Loewian see link i added
    – ray
    Aug 19 '15 at 5:37
  • "trust them and do what they say" and then what? If they don't trust one another who should I follow? And if they follow themselves why shouldn't I follow myself?
    – Al Berko
    Feb 28 '19 at 18:11

Briefly, it means that if a Chacham makes a halachic decision or offers advice or guidance, we implicitly trust him b/c he is a Chacham. We do not doubt what he says or question how or why he says it. We have faith that he is an extension of G-d's word.

This article has an interesting explanation of the concept and reason of Emunat Chachamim:

The Mechilta takes note of the pasook, “ [the Jewish people] believed in Hashem and in Moshe His Servant.” Why does the Torah seem to grant equal importance to belief in Hashem and belief in Moshe? The Mechilta answers that anyone who believes in a Torah leader is as if he believes in Hashem Himself. We see from here that emunas chachamim and emuna b’ Hashem are inextricably linked. After splitting the sea, it wasn’t enough for the Jews to just believe in Hashem. They had to believe in Moshe as well. This belief is a tremendous pillar of emuna. The gemara in Kesubos 111a teaches that the only way to cling to Hashem is to cling to talmidei chachamim. Through our personal relationships with rabbis, we can come to an actual relationship with the ribono shel olam Himself. Rabbis have such a powerful association with Hashem that the gemara in Pesachim 22b says that we even have a mitzvah to fear talmidei chachamim just as we have a mitzvah to fear Hashem. Fearing Rabbis leads to a true fear of G-d.

  • 1
    The first paragraph contains no source. The second, citing the Mechilta adds nothing in the way of definition. The Gemara K'subos is similarly unenlightened. The Gemara P'sachim is interesting, but it is unclear whether the rabbinic expression אמונת חכמים is identical to fear. (I assume it is not). Accordingly, no answer has been provided except for an unsourced assumption.
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 18 '15 at 21:26
  • I meant "unenlightening" I am sure the Gemara was enlightened.
    – mevaqesh
    Aug 19 '15 at 1:15

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