Being a shliach for the tzibur without Hashem

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    Can a person who does not believe in Hashem daven for the amud? Or be a baal kriya?


    The question should be: “Would a person who does not believe in Hashem, daven at all?”


    And why?


    Yes, if they are hiding that they don’t believe.


    I would say to keep up appearances. If someone, perhaps, believed it would keep their parents and family happy…


    So what is the answer to the original question?


    fkelly- So shomer shabbos b’farhesia is enough to be yotzei the minyan for kriyas hatorah?


    Are you asking or telling?


    So if he’s trying to keep up appearances, he wouldn’t have a problem doing the amud thing. And if he’s indeed trying to keep up appearances, who in shul would know the truth to be able to ask the shayla?

    Technically speaking, Halachically it would not be allowed. Theoretically, nobody will be able to stop him anyway. (Because they wouldn’t know the truth..)


    Well that person should be considerate of the other people and refuse to daven/read from the torah.

    What about someone mechalel shabbos secretly- what happens with the wine in their house that isn’t mevushal?


    So would the other people in the minyan be yotzei the davening or kriyah?


    fkelly- I am doing both. Telling over a scenario and asking a question.


    Oh, cuz I didn’t really understand the question “So shomer shabbos b’farhesia is enough to be yotzei the minyan for kriyas hatorah?”


    What’s not to understand in that question?


    No. Halachically it’s not enough. Sorry.


    So basically nobody can know if they are ever fulfilling the mitzvah of kriyas hatorah. Anyone can be a non-believer in private.


    As with everything else.


    What does it mean to be a believer? (hint: this question is impossible to answer in a meaningful way.)


    I think it is rare for people to 100% not believe in hashem. If anything some people might have serious doubts which lead them to be less shomer mitzvos.

    If its just a case of doubt its probably ok if they daven for the amud. I assume this happens all the time when people that arent so religious say kaddish and daven for the amud.


    I would think the Tzibbur is still Yotzei. But, it isn’t a very considerate thing to do. “Mitoch Sheloh Lishmah Bah Lishmah” does not apply here…

    Bottom Line, if you are not a maamin AT ALL (in which case, at that point you probably wouldn’t be in the shul any longer), you don’t belong covering for the amud. Ahh, but what of one who has “doubts”? Most people do, to some extent, at one time or another.That has to be clarified on a person to person basis. Just because a person has a few questions does not mean he needs to exclude himself from davening before the amid. But, again, every person is a separate story. If he truly wants to know the answer to this question, perhaps he should go discuss his actual believing “issues” as well.




    Now you speak up?!


    If somebody is a complete apikores, I’m pretty sure he may not be the sha”tz or receive an aliya. However, I’m not sure what the din is if he merely isn’t sure about one of the ikkurim.


    The Kanoi- so not true. I actually know a guy, who claims hes not frum any more, but he keeps on the whole look because of his kids, and hes actually a Baal Koreh on Shabbos for the money! he gets paid really well to lein!


    1. What does someone need to believe in order to daven for the amud?

    2. Is someone who has doubts about certain of those things better or worse than someone who is not smart enough to have those doubts?

    3. If someone thinks that all of the facts in the Torah are empirically provable, but thinks that if they weren’t he wouldn’t believe them, can he daven for the amud?

    4. If someone believes that none of the facts in the Torah are empirically provable, but thinks they happened anyway, can he daven for the amud?

    5. If someone believes that nothing in the Torah is true, but keeps the mitzvos anyway for social and family reasons, and also believes that the people around him are in the same situation, can he daven for the amud? What if he believes that the people around him conform to scenario 3 or 4? May he daven in that scenario?

    6. If someone believes that nothing in the Torah is empirically true, but believes it anyway because he thinks that that’s what Hashem wants, may he daven for the amud?


    chezkas kashrus



    I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. What’s not so true?


    1: The 13 Ani Maamans would probably be a good start.

    2: Better.

    3: I would imagine he’s alright since at the end of the day he believes everything he should, but I’m not positive.

    4: Definitely.

    5: I don’t see how he would be different from any other apikores.

    6: How is this different from 4?



    1. What does probably mean? What do the Ani Maamins mean? One could envision a Reform Jew believing all of them in some sense, and one could equally well envision rishonim not believing in some of them.

    2. If it’s true that someone who is not smart enough to harbor doubts is better than someone who is, then Emunah doesn’t sound like such a good idea. It promotes ignorance, since people who are too ignorant to know what questions there are can never explore those questions. Furthermore, it calls into doubt the very meaning of the word belief, as illustrated by the other questions. (I would also posit that your answer is the Chassidic one, but that Litvaks might answer it differently.

    3 and 4. So comparing the two, you are saying that it is better (at least for purposes of being a viable baal tefilah) to take some random version of events as true with no basis at all in fact, than it is to believe in something because it is proven? How can you make value judgments based on what people believe, if all you want is that they suspend judgment and take someone’s word for it? And what about all the other versions of history that are vying for this dude to believe them? Why do you privilege the biblical version of History over the others, if not because you think there is some way to say it’s objectively better?

    5. Question 5 really relies on a particular perception of questions 3 and 4, i.e. that belief must mean either being able to prove it, or believing it without being able to prove it; and that either version is not tenable as a religious requirement.

    6. This guy doesn’t actually think that as an empirical matter, these things happened, but he does believe that he needs to believe they happened. Again, it’s the logical outcome of questions 3 and 4. You can either prove something or you can’t. Inasmuch as someone can prove something, he doesn’t “believe” it. Inasmuch as someone can’t prove something, he can’t be required to believe it in the sense that he actually thinks it happened, but he can Believe it to the extent he thinks that as a matter of religious practice he needs to believe it.



    1: True, there is definitively more to it than just the Ani Maamans. However, I was answering in light of the OP.

    2: I did not say that emuna pishutah is better than knowing both the questions and answers (I believe it is a rather large machlokes; check out the introduction to Shaar Hayichud in the Chovos Halevavos), only that it is definitely considered emuna.

    3/4: Again, I am not opining on how and why one should believe the ikkarim, only that one must do so.

    5: Says you. I think that belief is, well, belief. If I ask you if you believe that the 13 ikkarim are true, you must be able to honestly answer in the affirmative. How you get to that certainty is up to you.

    6: So this guy doesn’t actually believe, he only believes that he has to believe? I don’t think that would be sufficient; you have to actually believe the ikkarim are true.

    I’m not claiming that this is the only way to learn up emuna/apikursus, but this is how I’d define it.


    Kanoi- Regarding your #6 of set 2, someone who does not have belief, and is certain of his non-belief, but is still searching because he wants to obtain belief is not a kosher baal kriyah?


    TKND: I still don’t understand how you define belief. Does it mean knowing that something happened factually? Does someone who simply takes someone else at his word without any investigation “believe” it then? Or does he just fail to disbelieve it? Shouldn’t belief imply some level of affirmative knowledge? If not, then what is it except a failure to disbelieve and a willingness to act in pursuance of that? And what distinguishes the guy who thinks that he can reconcile the scientific and Torah accounts of creation? Even if he’s wrong, as long as he doesn’t know he’s wrong, he thinks he knows that he believes in the Torah version.



    I don’t see how somebody who does not believe in the ikkarim of Judaisim can not be an apikores. But I’m no halachic authority, so you probably shouldn’t take my word for it.


    If somebody you completely trust tells you that a particular event occurred, your certainty is no less than it would be if you could logically prove that the event happened. The end result is the same: you believe/know that this event did indeed happen. And that, IMHO, is what matters.

    “And what distinguishes the guy who thinks that he can reconcile the scientific and Torah accounts of creation? Even if he’s wrong, as long as he doesn’t know he’s wrong, he thinks he knows that he believes in the Torah version.”

    Ein hachuh nami. As long as he is reconciling science to the Torah and not vice versa I don’t see any problem, even if the reconciliation doesn’t actually work.


    Secular Frummy- Sorry, I read the question wrong. I thought you said mechalel shabbos b’farhesia…

    I think the proof is there for anyone who is open to listen. Its actually quite obvious! But there are many reasons someone may not be keeping the mitzvos even though they believe. And I know a lot of people who are outwardly shomer torah umitzvos and are hiding that they are not frum.


    Kanoi- So someone who would like to believe but does not, for whatever reason, should not keep up appearances and continue “performing” mitzos in the meantime while s/he is searching for the emunah in Hashem?

    fkelly- But perhaps a person heard “proof” from the other side and that is stuck in his/her head. What would you say to such a person?


    If they are searching for emunah in Hashem, they definitely should continue keeping the mitzvos.

    It depends. If they truly want to believe in Hashem then they should listen to proofs from our side. Rabbi Orlofsky and Rabbi Lawrence Leib Keleman have some great shiurim on proving Hashem and the Torah, you can find them on torahanytime.

    If someone doesn’t want to believe, then no one anyone says will convince them of anything.



    I didn’t say that, I said they may be classified as an apikores for whatever halachos that designation is nogeiah. (But again, I’m no Rav.) They should definitely continue to keep Torah and Mitzvos.


    Konai- So for the meanwhile, during their search, he can still be a baal kriyah and be yotzei the tzibur with their leining?


    Nope. They cannot, should not touch nonmevushal wine, and are subject to an entire host of halakhic restrictions.


    Rebdoniel- Should a person, then, be subjected to admit to his/her family that s/he is a non-believer while searching for emunah? Or should s/he admit it, and not touch mevushal wine for the family?


    The person should’ve admitted a very long time ago. It’s a part of who they are. They anyway can’t fool the family forever. At one point it’s going to come out anyway. You may as well be tough about it.


    Or, they can start believing 😉

    I just couldn’t resist.


    Sharp- I can’t accept that. There are people that lie to their families about all sorts off things, why should belief be an exception? I know plenty of folks who have not been real with their families for years…


    Absolutely. You’re right on.

    My mistake for writing “should’ve”. Didn’t mean to tell you what to do. It was more like a suggestion. I thought it might make your life a bit easier if you did. But if it doesn’t, feel free to do what works with you.

    (I know you don’t need anyone’s permission. Just clarifying that it was meant as a suggestion, not as a command.)


    It was actually suggested because you were asking if they should admit.


    One could maybe argue based on the Rashba that such a person should be considered a tinok shenishba, since they had a bad educational upbringing.



    If a person is searching for proofs of the truth of Yiddishkeit, I don’t think he must inform his family of his current doubts. That said, perhaps if they know they could offer some help; depends on the exact situation.


    Rebdoniel- Tinok shenishba in regards to being an atheist? So then no true atheist would ever be liable for averios done, even if brought up frum.


    Sec frummy

    What is this person doing to get back in touch with his Emunah? I would hope such a person is in touch with a Rabbi and devotes serious time to Torah study….Its not going to come back on its own. A relationship has to be worked on.


    Veltz and Kanoi,

    There is no such thing as perfect knowledge and almost nothing can be proven as fact with 100% certitude.

    Accordingly it would be absurd to require a shliach tzibbur (or anyone for that matter) to believe anything without doubts. That is why in American Law there is a concept of beyond a reasonable doubt for criminal convictions. However, in civil cases the standard is more probable than not (aka preponderance of the evidence) which means 50+ epsilon.

    I think that there can be little argument that someone who believes that it is more probable than not that the Torah is true and lives his life accordingly, is eligible to be the shliach tzibbur.

    The question is someone who is basing his/her Torah true lifestyle on something like Pascal’s Wager or to remain within the community he/she loves.


    RebDoniel and FKelly,

    Why do you think that a person who is mechallel shabbos b’tzina assurs wine?

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