The Tzemach Tzedek raises a question: Is faith in G‑d considered a mitzvah? He cites different Rabbinic views on this matter.

אָנֹכִי ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים. זוֹ מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לֵידַע וּלְהַאֲמִין שֶׁיֵּשׁ אֱלוֹהּ (חִנּוּךְ, יִתְרוֹ, כ"ה),

(Sefer HaChinuch,1 Parshas Yisro, Mitzvah 25): “ ‘I am G‑d your L-rd Who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage (Shmos 20:2).’ This is a positive commandment to know and to believe that there is a G‑d.”2

As will be explained below, the use of both these terms, knowledge (yediah) and belief (emunah), is significant.

וְהָרַמְבַּ"ם בְּסֵפֶר הַמִּצְוֹת בְּמִצְווֹת עֲשֵׂה סִימָן א' בֵּאֵר עִנְיַן מִצְוָה זוֹ בְּלָשׁוֹן זֶה,

Rambam,in his Sefer HaMitzvos (positive commandment 1), explains the point of this mitzvah as follows:

מִצְוָה א' הִיא הַצִּוּוּי אֲשֶׁר צִוָּנוּ בְּהַאֲמָנַת הָאֱלֹהוּת

The first mitzvah that He commanded us is the commandment to believe in G‑d;

וְהוּא שֶׁנַּאֲמִין שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם עִלָּה וְסִבָּה הוּא פּוֹעֵל לְכָל הַנִּמְצָאִים

i.e., to believe that there is a Cause and a Motivation that brings into being all entities that exist,

וְהוּא אָמְרוֹ אָנֹכִי ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ עַד כַּאן לְשׁוֹנוֹ,

as it is written: “I am G‑d your L-rd.”

וְהָרַמְבַּ"ן שָׁם כָּתַב בְּשֵׁם בַּעַל הֲלָכוֹת גְּדוֹלוֹת שֶׁלֹּא מְנָאָהּ בְּתַרְיַ"ג

Ramban,in his Hasagos to Sefer HaMitzvos,3 op. cit., cites the opinion of the author of Halachos Gedolos4 who did not include this commandment in the sum of the 613 mitzvos.

Ramban states:

וְהַנִּרְאֶה מִדַּעְתּוֹ שֶׁל בַּעַל הֲלָכוֹת גְּדוֹלוֹת שֶׁאֵין מִנְיַן תַּרְיַ"ג מִצְוֹתָיו אֶלָּא גְּזֵרוֹתָיו יִתְעַלֶּה

It appears that the opinion of the author of the Halachos Gedolos is that the reckoning of the 613 mitzvos includes only His decrees

שֶׁגָּזַר עָלֵינוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת אוֹ מְנָעָנוּ שֶׁלֹּא לַעֲשׂוֹת,

that He decreed upon us to observe, or acts that He enjoined us against doing.

אֲבָל הָאֱמוּנָה בִּמְצִיאוּתוֹ יִתְעַלֶּה

By contrast, faith in His existence,

שֶׁהוֹדִיעַ אוֹתָהּ אֵלֵינוּ בְּאוֹתוֹת וּבְמוֹפְתִים וּבְגִלּוּי הַשְּׁכִינָה לְעֵינֵינוּ

which He made known to us with signs and wonders and through the revelation of His presence before our eyes,

הוּא הָעִקָּר וְהַשֹּׁרֶשׁ שֶׁמִּמֶּנּוּ נוֹלְדוּ הַמִּצְוֹת לֹא יִמָּנוּ בְּחֶשְׁבּוֹנָן

is the basis and the root from which all the mitzvos are spawned and is not included in that reckoning.

וְנִסְמַךְ שָׁם מֵהַמְּכִילְתָּא כְּשֵׁם שֶׁקִּבַּלְתֶּם מַלְכוּתִי קַבְּלוּ גְזֵרוֹתַי

That sage based himself on the statement of the Mechilta:“Just as you accepted My sovereignty, accept My decrees,”

עָשׂוּ קַבָּלַת הַמַּלְכוּת עִנְיָן בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ

making the acceptance of His sovereignty one matter

וְהַמִּצְוֹת הַנִּגְזָרוֹת מֵאִתּוֹ יִתְעַלֶּה בְּעִנְיָן אַחֵר כוּ'.

and the acceptance of His commandments and decrees another matter.

Faith in G‑d is the basis for the observance of all commandments. As such, the author of Halachos Gedolos does not include it as a specific commandment.

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם דַּעַת הָרַמְבַּ"ן בְּעַצְמוֹ הִיא כְּהָרַמְבַּ"ם

Nevertheless, Ramban himself agrees with Rambam’s position,5

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁסִּיֵּם שָׁם זֶהוּ דַּעַת בַּעַל הֲלָכוֹת גְּדוֹלוֹת וְיֵשׁ לוֹ פָּנִים

as Ramban concludes in the above source: “This is the opinion of the author of the Halachos Gedolos and there is a basis for it,

אֲבָל עוֹד בְּמִצְוֹת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה אֲבָאֵר הַמִּתְחַוֵּר לִי

but in the future, with regard to the negative commandments, I will explain my understanding of the issue.”6

וּבְהַשָּׂגוֹתָיו לְלֹא תַעֲשֶׂה סִימָן א' כָּתַב לְהֶדְיָא כְּהָרַמְבַּ"ם וְזֶה לְשׁוֹנוֹ

And in his Hasagos,Hosafos to the negative commandments, Mitzvah 1, he writes explicitly in accordance with Rambam’sposition, saying:

שֶׁנִּצְטַוִּינוּ מִצְוָה רִאשׁוֹנָה בְּקַבָּלַת מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם

We have been commanded in the first mitzvah to accept the sovereignty of Heaven,

כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁנַּאֲמִין שֶׁיֵּשׁ אֱלוֹהַּ פּוֹעֵל לְכָל הַנִּמְצָאוֹת

i.e., to believe that there is a G‑d Who causes all existence,

מוֹצִיאָן מֵאַיִן מֻחְלָט אֶל הַיֵּשׁ שֶׁהֵם עָלָיו

bringing it into being from absolute nothingness into the state of being in which it is found

וְאֶל הַיֵּשׁ שֶׁיַּחְפּוֹץ בּוֹ בְּכָל זְמַן מִן הַזְּמַנִּים

and the state of being He desires at all times.

וְהוּא שֶׁאָמַר יִתְבָּרֵךְ וְיִתְעַלֶּה אָנֹכִי ה' אֱלֹקֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים

This is implied by His statement: “I am G‑d your L-rd Who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

שֶׁהִיא מִצְוָה בֶּאֱמוּנָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב

This is the mitzvah of faith as it is written in the Torah.

וּבֵאַרְנוּ אֲנַחְנוּ אוֹתוֹ בִּרְאָיָה מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם זִכְרוֹנָם לִבְרָכָה

And we have explained with a proof from the words of our Sages,

צִוָּה אוֹתָנוּ בְּזֹאת הָאֱמוּנָה שֶׁהִיא יְסוֹד הַתּוֹרָה

He commanded us in this faith which is the foundation of the Torah.

עַד כַּאן לְשׁוֹנוֹ לְעִנְיָנֵנוּ,

This concludes what is relevant to our discussion.

וְכֵן כָּתוּב וּמְפֹרָשׁ בְּרַעְיָא מְהֵימְנָא פַּרְשַׁת וָאֵרָא דַּף כ"ה עַמּוּד א' וְזֶה לְשׁוֹנוֹ

This conception of the mitzvah is also explicitly stated in the Raya Mehemna, Parshas Va’eira, p. 25a,7

עַל פָּסוּק וִידַעְתֶּם כִּי אֲנִי ה' אֱלֹקֵיכֶם (שְׁמוֹת ו' ז'

based on the verse (Shmos6:7): “And you shall know that I am G‑d, your L-rd”:

פִּקּוּדָא דָא קַדְמָאָה דְכָל פִּקּוּדִין

This mitzvah is the first of all the mitzvos,

לְמִנְדַּע דְּאִית שַׁלִּיטָא עִלָּאָה דְּאִיהוּ רִבּוֹן עָלְמָא

i.e., to know that there is a Sublime Sovereign, the L-rd of the world,

וּבְרָא עָלְמִין כּוּלְהוּ שְׁמַיָּא וְאַרְעָא וְכָל חֵילֵיהוֹן

Who created the entire world, the heaven and the earth, and all their hosts.

וְדָא אִיהוּ בִּכְלָלָא כוּ'

This is the command in a general sense….

כֵּיוָן דְּיָדְעוּ פִּקּוּדָא דָא בְּאֹרַח כְּלָל

Since the people knew this commandment in a general sense…

כְּדֵין אוֹלִיף לוֹן בְּאֹרַח פְּרָט

this made it possible for them to proceed to knowing it in a particular way,

כִּי ה' הוּא הָאֱלֹקִים דָּא בְּאֹרַח פְּרַט

that “Havayah is Elokim.8 This is the particular way….

The intent is that the knowledge that Havayah is Elokim allows for faith in G‑d to be internalized.

כַּמָּה רָזִין וְסִתְרִין אִית בֵּיהּ

It contains many mystic secrets and hidden matters.

Havayah (י-ה-ו-ה) and Elokim (אלהים) are both names for G‑d. They have expressions on many spiritual planes. The name Havayah is associated with the Attribute of Mercy (Tiferes) and on a higher level, with His infinite light. The name Elokim is associated with the Attribute of Judgment (Gevurah) and in a more general sense, the revelation of G‑dliness within the limits and structure of the spiritual cosmos (i.e., Seder HaHishtalshelus). The verse is stating – and Chassidus explains at great length9 – that these two dimensions are not separate, Heaven forbid, but instead, represent a single integral whole.

עַד כַּאן לְשׁוֹנוֹ לְעִנְיָנֵנוּ,

This concludes what is relevant to our discussion.

מְבֹאָר מִדְּבָרָיו שֶׁפִּקּוּדָא קַדְמָאָה בְּאֹרַח כְּלַל

From these words it is explained that “the first commandment in a general sense”

הִיא מִצְוָה זוֹ דְּהַאֲמָנַת אֱלֹהוּת שֶׁמְּנָאָהּ הָרַמְבַּ"ם מִפָּסוּק אָנֹכִי

is the mitzvah of faith in G‑d which was listed as a mitzvah by Rambam,based on the verse “I am G‑d.”

וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַה שֶּׁכָּתַב בְּאֹרַח פְּרַט הִיא מִצְוַת אַחְדּוּת הַשֵּׁם

Afterwards, what the Raya Mehemna mentions about “a particular way” refers to the mitzvah of knowing the oneness of G‑d,

שֶׁמְּנָאָהּ הָרַמְבַּ"ם שָׁם סִימָן ב' מִפָּסוּק שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל ה' אֱלֹקֵינוּ ה' אֶחָד (דְּבָרִים ו' ד')

which Rambam listed as the second mitzvah, based on the verse (Devarim 6:4): “Hear O Israel, G‑d is our L-rd, G‑d is one.”

וְכֵן כָּתַב הַחִנּוּךְ תי"ז:

Similarly, Sefer HaChinuch counts the belief in G‑d’s oneness as Mitzvah 417.

וְכֵן הוּא לְהֶדְיָא בְּהַקְדָּמַת זֹהַר בְּרֵאשִׁית דַּף י"ב עַמּוּד א' פִּקּוּדָא תְּלִיתָאָה וּפִקּוּדָא רְבִיעָאָה

And this is explicitly stated in the introduction to the Zohar, Bereishis,p. 12a, in which “the third mitzvah” and “the fourth mitzvah” are mentioned.10

שֶׁהֵם ב' מִצְוֹת אֵלּוּ הַאֲמָנַת אֱלֹהוּת וְהַיִּחוּד

These are the two mitzvos: faith in G‑d and His oneness.

יְעֻיַּן שָׁם:

Consult that source.



Synopsis

The Tzemach Tzedek raises a question: Is faith in G‑d considered a mitzvah? Rambam (and the Zohar) considers it as one, while the author of Halachos Gedolos does not.

Raya Mehemna – and Rambam – make a distinction between faith in G‑d and the belief in His Oneness, and count the latter as a separate commandment.