While I'm sure there are individuals that perhaps struggled with their belief in Hashem and His "existence" were there ever any great chachamim (sages) from the throughout the generations that perhaps expressed their own doubt publicly (in writing, etc. -- whether they came to one conclusion or the other?)

  • 1
    Jews not Judaism?
    – Double AA
    May 22, 2018 at 22:12
  • @DoubleAA what do you mean?
    – Yehoshua
    May 23, 2018 at 0:46
  • Doubting God's existence is not part of Judaism, so I'm not sure why this question is different from one seeking rabbis who have written about basketball
    – Double AA
    May 23, 2018 at 0:56
  • 1
    @DoubleAA Believing in God's existence is part of Judaism
    – b a
    May 23, 2018 at 8:10
  • @DoubleAA A discussion in theology seems a lot more relevant to Judaism than basketball...
    – Yehoshua
    May 23, 2018 at 12:03

1 Answer 1


Obviously if one expresses doubts about belief in Hashem he is not a Chacham. But if you mean someone who was once a chacham- Theere is a Gemarah in Berachos 29a:

אל תאמין בעצמך עד יום מותך שהרי יוחנן כ"ג שמש בכהונה גדולה שמנים שנה ולבסוף נעשה צדוקי

Do not be sure of yourself until the day you die, as Yoḥanan the High Priest served in the High Priesthood for eighty years and ultimately became a Sadducee. Even one who is outstanding in his righteousness can become a heretic.

ויוחנן צדיק מעיקרו - Yochanan was originally a tzadik.

The צדוקים (seducees) did not believe in the oral Torah. This is Heresy. This which is against one of the 13 עיקרי אמונה is a subdivision of doubting belief in Hashem. (Heard from R' Moshe Schapiro ZTL).

  • 3
    Sadducees did not deny the existence of God. Don't see what this answer proves.
    – Oliver
    May 22, 2018 at 21:48
  • @Oliver as I said in my answer "The צדוקים (seducees) did not believe in the oral Torah. This is Heresy. (This is a subdivision of doubting belief in Hashem.)". I have heard this from R' Moshe Schapiro ZTL, that all the 13 principals of faith are subdivisions of Emunah in Hashem Himself. May 22, 2018 at 22:00
  • Point is - they didn't deny God's existence; debatable tabulations of principles of faith (basics of Jewish dogma; not subdivisions of Emunah) is besides the point. More acutely, in order to prove anything from your answer you'd need to first demonstrate to what extent Yochanan subscribed to Sadducean dogma. Josephus, for example, reports that Yochanan departed from the Pharisees due to a personal struggle.
    – Oliver
    May 22, 2018 at 23:20
  • @Oliver I also learned from R' Moshe Schapiro ZTL that with emunah there is no such thing as "partial faith". Since Hashem is a perfect and complete unity which is not made up of parts, but one complete singular unit, therefore if one denies any point of emunah he is a complete heretic. So regardless of "to what extent Yochanan subscribed to Sadducean dogma", the moment he subscribed to any of it he was in complete emunah denial. May 22, 2018 at 23:41
  • Without tackling R. Shapira's hypothesis, it may now be warranted to edit into your answer something like "Yochanan became a Sadducee, ergo, he denied God's existence, according to Rabbi MS Shapira."
    – Oliver
    May 22, 2018 at 23:54

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