The Rambam's 13 Articles of Faith begin with the statement: "אני מאמין באמונה שלמה" - "I believe with complete faith...", words that then go on to express our faith that God "creates and guides" all creatures, that "all of the words of the prophets are true," that God rewards good people and punishes those who are evil, and that the Messiah will come. But what does "complete faith" mean? Does it have to be 100%? What about 99% or 60% for that matter belief in those things? How do we reconcile "complete faith" when even the rabbis commentaries are less than unequivocal. For example: the concept that God "creates and guides" all creatures seemingly contradicts the notion of free will. The fact that in this world bad people come out on top and the innocent suffer contradicts the first article of faith -- if our behavior is guided, then how can there be guilt? And when we say we believe that the Messiah will come, in which context are we saying that -- do we assume that the Messiah might come only through a catastrophic war and not through mass repentance? And does complete faith mean that we have to accept the entire Torah and works of the prophets in completely literal terms, or does "complete faith" allow for some verses to be understood as parable?

Moreover, are we required to have a leap of faith, accepting each of Rambam's articles of faith to be true without study, or can we come to our own conclusions after first learning the Torah?

And if someone thinks these things are true but doesn't have complete enough faith, what are the practical implications?

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    Those weren't written by the Rambam, and I strongly question how much you can read into the precise wording of the poet who composed that. – Double AA Jan 29 '16 at 19:50
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    To repeat @DoubleAA's point. The Ani Maamins are a poetic reformulation of Rambam's principles that he lists in the begining of his commentary to the 10th chapter of the Mishnayot of Sanhedrin. That being said, few things can ever be known 100%. Certainly the more conviction was has for a belief, the better. – mevaqesh Jan 29 '16 at 20:26
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    "Complete faith" seems to infer 100% faith. Nothing is complete unless it is 100%. – ezra Jan 29 '16 at 23:38
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    The Rambam actually speaks about the difference between "knowing" and "belief". I "know" that Ner Israel Rabbinical College is in Baltimore because I have been there. Someone who has not can only "believe". I "know" how many children that I have. Someone that I have told can only "believe". Rambam says that one must "know" about Hashem. – sabbahillel Jan 31 '16 at 14:52
  • @sabbahillel although in the 13 principles, the Rambam uses the term "belief"... (in the post script to the principles, and in the text of the first principle in the classic translation) – Y     e     z Feb 1 '16 at 1:43

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