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Does anyone know of a sefer or other halachic source that deals with the halachot of what one must believe about G-d?

e.g., obviously Jews are required to believe G-d exists, and that He is the only G-d, but are we required by Jewish law to believe that He is a personal deity? Is it forbidden to believe that G-d has a physical form? Is it required to believe that He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent? etc.

I'm looking for something that deals with these issues from a halachic perspective, not so much from a philosophical perspective.

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I can see two sources for what you are asking

  1. The thirteen principles of faith from Maimonides, online here, there and see this book for an in-depth review showing those principles are not as absolute as one thinks

  2. The six permanent mitzvot, online here, there and see this book for an in-depth view

  • I think halachically, we do not follow the Rambam's list of 13 ikarim, but we do follow the looser idea of require someone's belief being explicable within the poetic versions of those ikarim that were incorporated into the siddur -- Ani Maamin and Yigdal. Rabbi/Dr Marc Shapiro's historical analysis is less relevant (aside from being contravercial in a number of the points he makes a long the way), as knowing that rabbi X used to be lenient doesn't change today's halakhah. Someone cannot eat chicken parmesan because he holds like Rabbi Yosi haGelili. – Micha Berger Mar 15 '16 at 14:53
  • By "halachically", I mean as part of the criteria a hekhsher (kashrus certifying agency) would use to decide who can handle uncooked wine that they are willing to certify as kosher. (Which may require also knowing why they don't believe, but part of it would indeed be the "what".) Or, how a beis din for conversion would decide whether or not to accept a candidate. – Micha Berger Mar 15 '16 at 14:55
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    Switching from prohibitions to obligations... In "3x2 Constant Mitzvos" aishdas.org/asp/3x2-constant-mitzvos , I show how the 6 mitzvos being referred to really contain 3 intellectual mitzvos and 3 emotional ones, and they can be loosely paired. – Micha Berger Mar 15 '16 at 14:58
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    @MichaBerger What? How are Ikkarei Emunah comparable to chicken parmesan? If God's not being physical is an essential component of His definition, then anyone who ever thought otherwise would be worshiping the wrong God. R Yose HaGlili on the other hand has an equally legitimate halachic position which we happen to currently not paskin like. Psak on Halakha systematically accepts different opinions are valid in different circumstances. Ikkarei Emunah cannot, as God, and hence His essential characteristics, is unchanging. – Double AA Mar 15 '16 at 14:59
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    i'm starting to realize the challenges in answering this question, seeing as the "halachas" of belief are inextricably linked with philosophy. i've selected this answer because it recommends the greatest number of sources, including Shapiro's book, which I've just started reading as of yesterday. Though controversial, this book clearly addresses halachik and philosophical approaches to the Rambam's ikarim, including disputes regarding them. This is primarily what I was looking for. – Ian Taylor Mar 20 '16 at 5:14
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Much of the Rambam's first chapter of Yesodei HaTorah deals with these issues. Also, chapter three of Hilchos Teshuva brings them up again (halacha seven).

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According to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (introduction to the Sacks Siddur, xxxv-xxxvi), that book is the Siddur:

Scholars of Judaism, noting that it contains little systematic theology, have sometimes concluded that it is a religion of deeds not creeds, acts not beliefs. They were wrong because they were searching in the wrong places. They were looking for a library of works like Moses Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed. They should have looked instead at the prayer book. The home of Jewish belief is the siddur...

The fact that Jewish faith was written into the prayers, rather than analyzed in works of theology, is of immense significance. We do not analyze our faith: we pray it. We do not philosophize about truth: we sing it. Even Maimonides' Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith -- the most famous creed in the history of Judaism -- only entered the mainstream of Jewish consciousness when they were turned into a song and included in the siddur as the hymn known as Yigdal. For Judaism, theology becomes real when it becomes prayer. We do not talk about God. We talk to God.

  • The question says: "Does anyone know of a sefer or other halachic source that deals with the halachot of what one must believe about G-d?" and "I'm looking for something that deals with these issues from a halachic perspective, not so much from a philosophical perspective.". Does Rabbi Sacks claim that the sidur "deals with the halachot"? Can you edit in more info about how he claims that or substantiates that claim? – msh210 Mar 15 '16 at 21:46
  • @msh210 how about now? R. Sacks' claim is that there are no such sources because that does not match the Jewish perspective – wfb Mar 16 '16 at 16:18
  • So "that book is the Siddur" should be something like "there is no such book", shouldn't it? – msh210 Mar 16 '16 at 17:36
  • @msh210 if you want to be pedantic, yes – wfb Mar 16 '16 at 17:38

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