Is it heretical for someone to accept all the '5 books of Moses', but not the writings of the other prophets, namely from the 'Neviim' section in the Tanach?

Note: for the purpose of this question, one may assume it was Moses himself that wrote of his own death

Note #2: In the 'Ani Maamin' lithurgy that seems to be somewhat based on the Rambam's principles, the 6th principle is phrased that the belief is that "all the words of the prophets are true."

  • I don't see how this could possibly be heresy. How could someone living at the time of Yehoshua believe in the truth of Tzefania? Was such a person a heretic?
    – Double AA
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 17:03
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    It should be noted that scholars have noted that that feature of the Ani Maamin reflects a deviation from Rambam's words.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 18:03
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    @Fei23 You keep using that term in quotes like it's a technical term with specific meaning. I'm unfamiliar with a standardized usage of it. Instead of using vague terminology, just say explicitly what you mean: a belief such that one who holds it is deemed a heretic.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 18:22
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    @user6618 So the content which one needs to believe to not be a heretic changes with time and is dependent on what is "accepted"? That's unexpected to say the least. I thought these beliefs are supposed to be fundamental and unchanging.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 18:10
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    @DonielFilreis It shows that they thought it was true. Not that belief in it is mandatory.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 7:49

2 Answers 2


It would seem from a couple of statements of R. Yosef Albo that he held that one who does not accept the writings of the prophets is not a heretic.

Sefer HaIkkarim 1:1

אלא שבלי ספק רבי הלל לא היה מאמין בביאת המשיח כלל ואף על פי כן לא היה נמנה בכלל הכופרים

Rather, without a doubt Rabbi Hillel did not believe in the coming of the Messiah at all, and even so he was not counted among the heretics.

Sefer HaIkkarim 4:42

הוא מבואר שכל מי שאינו מאמין בביאת המשיח הוא כופר בדברי הנביאים

It is clear that anyone who does not believe in the coming of the Messiah is denying the words of the prophets.

By putting these two statements together we see that Rabbi Hillel denied the words of the prophets yet was not considered a heretic.


Although the Rambam (Hilchos Teshuva 3:8), seems to imply that only a denial in the prophecy of Moshe gives someone the title "Apikorus", the first part of this Halacha says there are 3 who are called Apikorus.

  1. Someone who says prophecy doesn't exist and there is no knowledge that transfers from The Creator to man

שלשה הן הנקראים אפיקורסין. האומר שאין שם נבואה כלל ואין שם מדע שמגיע מהבורא ללב בני האדם.

This would indicate that denial of any prophecy recorded in the written law is grounds for being referred to as an Apikorus. However, the next item:

  1. Someone who denies the prophecy of Moshe.

והמכחיש נבואתו של משה רבינו

seems to say that only a denial of Moshe's prophecy gets one categorized as a heretic.

R' Moshe Shternbuch in his commentary on Hilchos Teshuva, Haderech L'Teshuva, explains that the singling out of Moshe here is to highlight something else the Rambam says in the principles of faith from his Mishna Commentary at the end of Sanhedrin that Moshe's prophetic abilities exceeded those of any other prophet and denial of this is another level of heresy.

לא נתבאר מאי שנא כופר במשה רבינו דוקא, רק כונתו נראה שמיסוד האמונה מבואר ברמב"ם בפיהמ"ש סוף חלק שנבואת משה רבינו עדיף ושונה מכל הנביאים, עיין באריכות ברמב"ם פ"ז דיסודי התורה, ולזה נתכוון הרמב"ם כאן שמכחיש נבואתו של משה שעדיף מכל הנביאים, ופה אל פה אדבר בו במראה ולא בחידות ונקרא בזה שפיר אפיקורס

One could believe in all of the prophetic writings but if he equates Moshe's abilities with those of the other prophets, he would still be an Apikorus according to the Rambam

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    "This would indicate that denial of any prophecy recorded in the written law is grounds for being referred to as an Apikorus. However, the next item" It indicates no such thing! A careful reading indicates the opposite: האומר שאין שם נבואה כלל implies that there is no nevuah at all; not just in the alleged prophetic works. Besides for his language clearly implying the opposite, the failure of the greatest codifier of Jewish beliefs to ever list it as a required belief speaks volumes.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 11:14
  • @Tzuriel the question here isn't about not believing in prophecy, or not believing in the prophecy of Moses, or equating Moses' prophecy with the other prophets, it's about whether or not one must believe in the other prophets and their writings
    – Fei23
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 15:57
  • @Fei23 No, everyone agrees one must believe in them, because they are true. The question is if you are a heretic if you don't, instead of just being flat out wrong.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 16:08
  • @DoubleAA Yeah that's exactly what I'm after, if this would be a transgression of not 'listening to the true prophet' or actually a fundamental belief (i.e the written law is in a category of it's own that must be accepted).
    – Fei23
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 16:49

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