Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Denying that our ancestors sinned - Theology versus Chazal

There has been a major discussion going on in the comments sections  click here regarding whether one can say that Dovid sinned or that in general our Biblical ancestors - including the Avos - literally sinned the way they are described in Tanach and Chazal. For example while it says in Shabbos (55b) that whoever says that Dovid sinned is mistaken, but Chazal also say in Avoda Zara (4b), that G-d forced the Jews to worship the Golden Calf and forced Dovid to have a sinful relationship with Batsheva in order to encourage repentance. It basically comes down to whether there is a metarule that they were free from real sin - that overrides all evidence presented by both the literal meaning of Tanach as well as explicit statements in Chazal, Rishonim and Achronim. It is also clear that there are disagreements in Chazal and Rishonim regarding what sins were done - however I don't see that they had a rule to reinterpret events to eliminate sins or to say that the sin was only relative to their exalted stature. [see Rav Yonason Eibschuetz below who notes a gemora which indicated that Yehuda sinned with Tamar - while Ramban and others considered it a mitzva.]

The Chazon Ish discusses this issue regarding the view of the Baalei Mussar that the Jews who came out of Egypt were contrary to strong evidence in Chazal and Chumash - tzadikim on a very high level. He says you can't ignore the words of the Torah and Chazal to accept such a view. A good example of the Mussar approach is Rav Dessler (Michtav M'Eliyah 1:161). I haven't found this discussed in non-Mussar works, haven't found it in Chazal, or Rishonim such as Rashi or Ramban. Can't find an example in Maharal (In fact aside from the Mussar approach it seems assumed that when a sin is mentioned it means a sin in the absolute sense).

update: The earliest example of the Mussar approach is from the Ramchal in his discussion of Agadta.

רמח"ל (מאמר על אגדות חז"ל - הקדמה לעין יעקב) "...וזה מפני כלל שבידם שבמעשה הצדיקים כל מה שיש לדרוש לשבח צריך לדרוש לשבח. וברשעים להיפך שכך היא הקבלה שכוונתו של הבי"ת במלות שהכתיב היתה לרמוז על כל פרטי הרשע של הרשעים ולבאר כל חלקי גנותם. ולהפך בצדיקים. ולהעלים כל מש שאפשר שיהיה בהם מהגנאי ולבאר כל מה שבשבחם...."
Chazon Ish (Letters I:208) responded to the assertion that the Jews in Egypt were on the highest level in Torah, Mitzvos, faith and piety. The assertion was based upon the medrashism which said that the righteous women went to the fields and gave birth and left their children and there were many miracles done for them…The deduction being that surely because of these righteous women and these miracles – the entire Jewish people must of have been totally devoted to G-d and his mitvos. A further foundation of this assertion was the medrash which states that the Jews were only enslaved for 86 years and that this is insufficient time to become significantly dissolute and debased. The Chazon Ish said that these deduction have no basis since they are all against what Chazal themselves say on the subject.   He concludes that the assertion that it was impossible for the Jews to become ruined since they saw miracles is not valid. In fact the Jews saw miracles when they were redeemed from Egypt and at the Sea, as well as the Maan and at the giving of the Torah – and yet they made the Golden Calf. Furthermore there were 10 miracles at the Beis HaMikdash and many miracles and wonders done by the Prophets – nevertheless this did not prevent them from having free will to serve idols. one should not interpret the early generations in such a way that it is impossible for us to comprehend and learn from them. In fact they had free will and this is main thing in avodas HaShem.
Chazon Ish (Letters I:209) states a rule that for major widely stated facts one should should not interpret them significantly from the clear simple meaning. Only isolated things can be occasionally explained differently then their simple meaning. In the Torah we see much effort to save the Jews from deserting the entire Torah and running instead after idol worship something which according to our present condition where the Yetzer harah has been killed is totally incomprehensible.The reality of the desire for idol worship is really beyond our comprehension is the same way a blind person can’t comprehend colors

A similar assertion is made by the Leshem regarding why Chazal tell us  that Yosef really was on the verge of an adulterous relationship  - despite that fact not being explicit in the Torah. He rejects the idea that Chazal used a metaprinciple that we always explain  things so that Tzadikim are understood to do good things and the wicked do wicked things. He says that Chazal say what they said because they know it to be true through ruach hakodesh - including the nature of their sins.
Leshem(Shaarei Leshem 2:4:19): The critical point is that every Jew is obligated to believe with perfect faith that all which is found in the words of our Talmudic Sages - both in halacha, Talmudic agada and medrashim - are in their entirety the words of the living G‑d. That is because everything that they say is with ruach hakodesh (Sanhedrin 48:). This includes even that which isn’t relevant to halacha and deed…Also all their decrees and statutes are not the product of human intellect at all but rather are the result of ruach hakodesh in which G‑d has expressed Himself through them. This is the great sound that doesn’t end (Devarim 5:19) of the giving of the Torah at Sinai and it expresses itself in the Oral Torah…. Thus, the Sages are just like messengers in what they say…. This is why the Baal Halachos Gedolos includes the Rabbinic mitzvos with the Torah mitzvos since all of them were given by G‑d (Chagiga 3b)…We can conclude from all this that anyone who tries to analyze the words of the Sages in order to establish the nature of their truth places himself in great danger. That is because man’s intellect cannot properly comprehend this matter and thus a person can come to heresy from the endeavor. This is what Koheles (7:16) states: Don’t make yourself too wise - why destroy yourself? A person who gets involved in this matter will find it very difficult to resist following his human understanding. He will end up going back and forth between the view of the Torah and that of his own understanding…. The righteous person lives by his faith because that is the foundation of the entire Torah….
 update: Regarding Dovid HaMelech see Shabbos (56a), Avoda Zara 4b) and other places

Yoma (22b):R. Huna said: How little does he whom the Lord supports need to grieve or trouble himself! Saul sinned once and it brought [calamity] upon him, David sinned twice and it did not bring evil upon him — What was the one sin of Saul? The affair with Agag.19 But there was also the matter with Nob,20 the city of the priests? — [Still] it was because of what happened with Agag that Scripture says: It repenteth Me that I have set up Saul to be king.21 What were the two sins of David? — The sin against Uriah22 and that [of counting the people to which] he was enticed.23 But there was also the matter of Bathsheba?[Rashi says because he had sexual relations with her] 24 — For that he was punished, as it is written, And he shall restore the lamb fourfold:25 the child, Amnon, Tamar and Absalom.26 But for the other sin he was also punished as it is written: So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed?27 — There his own body was not punished — But in the former case, too, his own body was not punished either?28 Not indeed? He was punished on his own body, for Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: For six months David was smitten with leprosy, the Sanhedrin removed from him, and the Shechinah departed from him, as it is written: Let those that fear Thee return unto me, and they that know Thy testimonies,29 and it is also written: Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.30 But Rab said that David also listened to evil talk?31 — We hold like Samuel [who says] that David did not do so. And even according to Rab, who says that David listened to calumny, was he not punished for it? For Rab Judah said in the name of Rab. At the time when David said to Mephibosheth: I say: Thou and Ziba divide the land,32 a heavenly voice came forth to say to him: Rehoboam and Jeroboam will divide the Kingdom. [...] Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: Why did the kingdom of Saul not endure? Because no reproach rested on him,38 for R. Johanan had said in the name of R. Simeon b. Jehozadak: One should not appoint any one administrator of a community, unless he carries a basket of reptiles on his back, so that if he became arrogant, one could tell him: Turn around!39

[Rashi understands the above as meaning that Shaul did not have a degrading family tree while Dovid did.]

Yaaros Devash (1:15): Why does Yoma (22b) consider Dovid’s descent from Tamar to be degrading? Isn’t it a fact that at that time — before the Giving of the Torah — it was considered normal for the father of the deceased to marry the widow? It was only after the Giving of the Torah that the widow was restricted to a marriage with a brother‑in‑law? See Ramban (Bereishis 38:8) and Abarbanel who agree that Yehuda fulfilled the mitzva of yibum by marrying Tamar. Therefore why was it considered a degradation — the opposite seems true because Yehuda was fulfilling the mitzva of levirate marriage?

update: Rav S. R. Hirsch(Bereishis 12: 10 – 13):.  The Torah does not seek to portray our great men  as perfectly ideal figures; it deifies no man. It says of no one: “Here you  have the ideal; in this man the Divine assumes human form!” It does  not set before us the life of any one person as the model from which  we might learn what is good and right, what we must do and what we  must refrain from doing. When the Torah wishes to put before us a  model to emulate, it does not present a man, who is born of dust.  Rather, God presents Himself as the model, saying: “Look upon Me!  Emulate Me! Walk in My ways!” We are never to say: “This must be  good and right, because so-and-so did it.” The Torah is not an “anthology  of good deeds.” It relates events not because they are necessarily  worthy of emulation, but because they took place.    The Torah does not hide from us the faults, errors, and weaknesses  of our great men, and this is precisely what gives its stories credibility.  The knowledge given us of their faults and weaknesses does not detract  from the stature of our great men; on the contrary, it adds to their  stature and makes their life stories even more instructive. Had they  been portrayed to us as shining models of perfection, flawless and  unblemished, we would have assumed that they had been endowed  with a higher nature, not given to us to attain. Had they been portrayed  free of passions and inner conflicts, their virtues would have seemed  to us as merely the consequence of their loftier nature, not acquired  by personal merit, and certainly no model we could ever hope to  emulate.

We also find criticism of the Avos in Chazal such as this medrash which said they erred in chinuch.

SHEMOTH RABBAH (1:1):  NOW THESE ARE THE NAMES OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL, WHO CAME INTO EGYPT WITH JACOB; EVERY MAN CAME WITH HIS HOUSEHOLD (EX. I, 1): Thus we read: He that spareth his rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (Prov. XIII, 24). Ordinarily, if a man's friend says to him: ' So-and-so, smite your son,’ he is ready even to deprive him of his livelihood.l Then why ’He that spareth his rod hateth his son’?2 To teach you that anyone who refrains from chastising his son causes him to fall into evil ways and thus comes to hate him. This is what we find in the case of Ishmael who behaved wickedly before Abraham his father, but he did not chastise him, with the result that he fell into evil ways, so that he despised him and cast him forth empty-handed from his house. What did Ishmael do? When he was fifteen years old, he commenced to bring idols from the street, toyed with them and worshipped them as he had seen others3 do. So when Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne unto Abraham, making sport (Gen. XXI, 9)- (the word mezahek being always used of idolatry as in And they rose up to make merry (Ex. XXXII, 6)4)-she immediately said unto Abraham: Cast out this bondwoman and her son (Gen. XXI, 10) lest my son learn of his ways. [see rest of medrash]


  1. The issue of how literally to take the words of Tanach and Chazal when they describe sins is an interesting one. Context is important, as well as who is being spoken about. There are definitely cases of great men succumbing to temptation and sinning. It seems that Chazal's attitude towards publicising these sins took into account both the gravity of the sin and how people could misinterpret it for something greater - see Mishna Megilla 4:10 "מעשה ראובן נקרא ולא מתרגם מעשה תמר נקרא ומתרגם..." with Tiferes Yisrael.

    Rav Hutner זצ"ל famously bemoaned the modern Gedolim biographies which convey the impression that the personalities written about were "angels from birth", their entire lives being a constant upward trek of self-perfection, with no dips and failures on the way. Rav Hutner saw these books as not simply "false by omission" - אדם אין צדיק בארץ אשר יעשה טוב ולא יחטא - but also as somewhat dangerous, because a Bochur who reads them becomes convinced that greatness in Torah is far beyond his reach - after all, at the age of 14 he's probably done more Aveiros than all these Gedolim (put together) did in their entire lifetimes! The truth, says Rav Hutner, is that on the contrary, שבע יפול צדיק וקם - the נפילות are themselves part of the growth process.

    The solution to this problem is not so clear. Some would suggest that the biographies should contain all the dirt that can be dug up about the Gadol in question. This is absurd and wrong - the Issur of Lashon Hara prohibits us from telling true denigrating facts about any person, and speaking negatively about a Talmid Chacham, expecially a Gadol BaTorah, is even more serious. (See Brachos 19a).

    Some make light of this prohobition, and deceive themselves by saying: On the contrary! The more I describe the Aveiros of that Gadol in his youth, the greater I am making him appear when he nevertheless overcame these struggles and temptations and rose to greatness! The people who say these things wouldn't want you to discover the Aveiros of THEIR youth, mind you! (See also Bava Metziah 58b "אם היה בעל תשובה לא יאמר לו זכור מעשיך הראשונים ")

    On the other hand, the question is - how can we accurately convey the strength of character of someone who, despite having failed in certain issues, nevertheless rose above those temptations to become what they became? [Many of these issues were brought up in the whole "Making of a Gadol" controversy, which I don't want to go into now.]

    1. It was pointed out to me that Rav Hutner is specifically referring to biographies of gedolim. Regarding the Avos, he says that sin is relative to level which is the Mussar approach.

    2. the Ramchal was a great KABBALIST, so his approach then in his opinion is true according to kabbalah. not just mussar!!!


  2. My position is that even if the quality of a biography suffers as a result of not being able to write the whole truth, so be it - that does not give us the right to include any information which the Issur of Lashon Hora and בזיון התורה prevents us from publicising. An analogy: the journalistic quality of many religious newspapers would be greatly improved if they included Lashon Hora - but that's no Heter. Remember what that Gemara in Brachos says about speaking of the sins of a Talmid Chacham - that it is assumed that they have definitely done Teshuva, and that one who denigrates them is punished severely.

    But how, then, do we avoid the pitfalls - of dishonesty and of disillusioning our youth (and old)? My solution is: to teach the truth as Rav Hutner taught us, but in a GENERAL WAY. So we don't say "Gadol X did sin Y in his youth Z times but still persevered!" We teach all the biographies as they are, but we add: You should know that this is not the whole story. These Gedolim definitely were only human and had many slip-ups and falls along the way. Having failures in Avodas Hashem is normal. אדם אין צדיק בארץ אשר יעשה טוב ולא יחטא.

    I think that this method is the safest - it preserves the image of the Gadol and does not involve any Issurim, yet it keeps everything in perspective for the Talmid. I would be interested in knowing what other people have to say about this.

    1. Chaim - Excellent point.

      But how about also explaining HOW they overcame their נסיונות?

  3. A very interesting post, and i have 2 questions:

    1) why was Brit Milah sometimes delayed in the Torah, e.g Moshe's son, and also Am Yisroel, who did not have Bris whil in the Midbar, only when they had crossed into Eretz Yisrael ?

    2) regarding Leshem's comments on Rabbinic mitzvos - how does this relate to the statements of Rambam, and then RambaN. Rambam wrote that saying the D'Rabbanan were D'Oraita is bal tosif - so would this not be the same as saying G-d gave them? He also says we are obliged to follwo whatever the sanhedrin decrees, ie d'rabbanan, by force of torah. this latter point was disputed by RambaN, on his comments to the Rambam. There is some issue of logical consistency across these statements. Any advice?

    1. As far as #2:

      The Leshem can possibly mean what the Ramban writes in Bava Basra - that תלמידי חכמים have מעין רוח הקודש. This doesn't make it a דאורייתא.

      רמב"ן ב"ב דף יב ד"ה הא דאמרינן מיום שחרב בית המקדש אע"פ שנטלה נבואה מן הנביאים מן החכמים לא נטלה: ... ויש להשיב בה דהא אמרינן במסכת נדברים אין הקב"ה משרה שכינתו אלא על חכם גבור ועשיר [וא"כ הנביא בע"כ הוא גם חכם, ואיך קאמר שנטלה נבואה מפיהם] ... אלא הכי קאמר אע"פ שנטלה נבואת הנביאים שהוא המראה והחזון נבואת החכמים שהיא בדרך החכמה לא נטלה אלא יודעים האמת ברוח הקדש שבקרבם שהוא לפי שעה משרה הוא שכינתו אף על החסידים שאינם חכמים דאמרינן התם מנא לן ממשה ואלו משה לא פסק ממנו נבואתי

  4. I have never understood why the brief memra of Shmuel bar Nachmeni in Shabbos gets more play than the more elaborate discussion of the David and Batsheva matter in Perek Cheilek in the name of Rav Yehudah speaking in Rav's name. Especially since the latter is both consistent with the p'shat in navi and connected to a halacha (that we do not say Elokei Dovid in t'filla)

    1. Who is Shmuel bar Nachmeni, whom's Memra you don't think is so important? Is he your next door neighbor? It must be, because that way you could decide about the value of his Memra based on how concise or lengthy it is, and how much "play" it should get.

      I know about "REB" Shmuel bar Nachmeni, who's Memra, however brief, has more Chochma in it than you and I could amass if we would spend all our lives learning. So you, with all of your Pseudo-intellectualism, are not a Man De'amar! Do you understand? Watch your language!

      Daas Torah, why do you allow such unmitigated Chutzpa and stupidity? You're obviously relying on the likes of me to be Moiche.

    2. OK then, why so little discussion of the views of Reb Rav Yehuda and Reb Rav?

    3. Also, telling that you do not protest the absence of Reb Dovid and Rebbetzin Batsheva.

    4. Katche--I didn't mean to suggest that one should ignore the gemara in Shabbos. Only that one has to consider it in full light of everything Chazal say on the subject, and that it seems to me the generally authoritative view of Rav as transmitted by Rav Yehudah shouldn't be ignored, as it seems to be in popular discussion.

      And really, the sort of personal attack you posted is totally uncalled for.

    5. Mike S., I apologize for the personal attack. I would want, however, to convey the feeling and flavor of my mesorah, which is most likely also the Mesorah of the Zeides of everyone on this blog, that this entire thinking is Possul and very much going against the grain, and my show of shock and horror, is intended to convey this.


  5. Every human being is susceptible to the perils of the Yetzer Horah, of course. Unless he destroyed it like The Avos Hakdoshim who eventually reached the point that לא שלטה בהם יצר הרע ב"ב י"ז. through their tremendous Avoida and Dovid שהרגו בתענית . But the face of the Yetzer Hora does not and can not present itself the same way to all people. What would it take to get some cheap crude individual to speak Loshon Hora, for example. Not much! But what would it take to bring The Chafetz Chaim into such a Nesoyon? Well, for beginners, no threat of material loss or promise of material gain could accomplish that, because these things don't have much value in the eyes of The Chofetz Chaim, so it could not threaten to tip the scale against that which is of utmost importance to him, Kiyum Hatorah. Does that mean he has no Yetzer Hora? Obviously not, because everybody has. It has been told of Tzadikim that they ever forfeited their Olam Haba for the sake of doing Hashem's will, and I believe The Chafetz Chaim would have as well. In other words, not only would material gain or loss not create a Nesoyon for him, but even Spiritual, because it is still a selfish thing, which would not tip the scale against selflessly worshiping Hashem, which was his only goal in life. Perhaps, and this is only spoken Bederech Mashal because I don't fathom at all the great Tzidkus of The Chofetz Chaim, but perhaps, if the well being of another Yid was at steak, or maybe the well being of the Klal, which IS important to him, because it is a Mitzva to care about that, and it is in the category of Avoidas Hashem, it might create a situation in which it would be possible for him to have a misjudgment. So if there would be a story that the Chofetz Chaim spoke in a way which seems to us to be out of character, suppose let's say it would be in connection to his Yeshiva, and if this would be an ordinary person, it would appear that he lost himself because his Kovod was at stake, anybody who understand that personal Kavod has no place of value by this Tzadik, would know that this was not the dynamic that was happening but it was CERTAINLY about the purpose of advancing Torah and Kvod Shomayim. When we learn about those great Tzadikim who are way above us, we know that we can't understand the 'dynamic' of the story to be as it would be for us. In fact, the actual understanding and grasping of the dynamic, would not be possible for us even if we were clearly told, because it would have to be told in 'words', and those words will be understood by us in the way that we are accustomed to understanding them, which is on OUR level and not on the level of the great people involved. But, on their great level, it IS possible that they sinned, but we don't understand the Metzius of that sin, or for that matter of their Mitzvos or anything about them. Therefore, we can't say anything, except repeat what Chaza'l wrote Beruach Kodsham.

    I saw what Nat wrote, although I could not, in my rush, find what he was responding to, but I understand and agree with every word that he wrote. And second of all, why are we speaking in a way which we did not hear from our Rebbes? If you deviate from Mesorah, you're asking for trouble, and in this case, you've found it.

    I hope I helped clarify this issue.

    1. What do you do with the following gemora?

      Sukkah (52a): Abaye explained that the yetzer harah is stronger against sages than anyone else. For example when Abaye heard a certain man say to a woman, “Let us arise and go on our way.” Abaye said that he would follow them in order to keep them from sin and so he followed after them for three pasarangs across a meadow. However they simply parted from each other and he heard them say, “The way is long and the company is pleasant.” Abaye said, “If I were in that situation I could not have withstood temptation.” He went and leaned against a doorpost in deep anguish. An old man came to him and taught him: To the degree that a person is greater than others, to that degree his yetzer (evil inclination) is greater than theirs.

      Rav Tzadok (Resisei Layla #3): According to the degree of perfection that a person has, there is a corresponding potential for imperfection. From the time of the sin of Adam, good and evil have become intertwined and there is a direct correspondence of one to the other. Whoever has a great imperfection has the means to acquire a great perfection - if he merits it. We see this in the words of the Zohar (3 216a) that in generation of the Flood - that was destroyed because of their sin - they had the potential to be the ones to receive the Torah. Similarly Sukka (51a) states that proportional to one’s greatness is his lust which is called foolishness… Thus the greater the person’s wisdom is also the greater is his potential for foolishness. Consequently, at the time when idol worship existed we find that prophecy also existed. Just as there were revelations of the light of prophecy to see spirituality with the eye there was a lust for other gods that were visible to the eye.

      It is clear from the above that Abaye had a yetzer harah for zenus in the literal sense. He also has explained this with a principle which would indicate that the Avos and other elevated people have in fact a greater yetzer harah for sin than normal people.

    2. That's all very well - but I was called a Chamor (donkey) for suggesting that our great ancestors were normal humans with same emotions and psychology as we do. This is suggesting their emotions/yetser were even stronger than ours.

    3. DT - The gemara in Sukka is talking about נסיונות - not actual sinning. Please see the אוחה"ק I quote later.

    4. Hi Guys. Instead of answering you directly, which hasn't seemed to get anywhere, let me ask you this:
      There is a Gemara which, I feel, has been the center of this controversy, which I have quoted numerous times. I will quote it one more time and ask you to enlighten me on its meaning.
      The Gemara says: Im harishonim kemalochim, anu kevnei adam. Im harishonim kevnei adam, anu kechamorim.
      RDE and Eddie: Would you please tell me your understanding of these lines of Gemara, in light of what you have been saying that the Avos had our same emotions and psychology? Do you have a different pshat than everyone else? You can both answer if you would like.
      Thank you.

    5. Daas Torah, Let me explain what's problematic about your position.

      Hashem gave us the Torah and said בראשית ד',ז' ) ואתה תמשול בו) and Rashi is Mefaresh that we are able to overcome the Yetzer Horah and we are empowered to keep the Torah - כי קרוב אליך הדבר מאד. We must understand that the way to overcome the Yetzer horah is through the Torah בראתי תורה תבלין. Chazal also teach us that we can protect ourselves through עשו סיג לתורה. The Gemara (Yuma 38b) also explains the Possuk רגלי חסידיו ישמור that through painstaking Avoida in fighting the Yetzer Horah you get protection from the Yetzer Horah. Now if you say that these Tzadikim were just as susceptible to the yetzer horah as anyone else, or more than anyone else, as you quote Yitzro Gadol Mimenu, then basically you're saying that we are not empowered to defeat the Yetzer Horah no matter how much Torah and Mitzvos etc. (So we are predetermined as apposed to having Bechira. I put this into parenthesis because I know that you could Drei Zich Araois from this one) The fact of the matter is that none of the Tanaim or Amoraim, Rishonim or Achronim ever had such scandals connected to them. Not even Abaye who was unhappy with himself as you cited. You should find that a tremendously unlikely phenomenon. The Gemara says :ע"ז ד (as far as I know there is no machlokes) לא דוד היה ראוי....ולא ישראל ראוין לאותו מעשה and Rashi explains that they were storng fighters of the Yetzer horah and it was not ראוי that the Yetzer Horah should have been able to overpower them but it was a Gezairah of Hashem. So we see clearly that such Tzadikim are not susceptible unless there is a special decree for which they have no power to control. We see also :קידושין פ"א that certain Tzadikim taunted the Yetzer Horah and the Yetzer Horah tried to get even(eventually without success because these tzadikim had divine protection as the Gemara says there) so why did the Yetzer Horah not do his regular job until being taunted? In fact the very Gemara in Sucah that you brought says clearly a few line later that all overcoming of the yetzer horah is with divine aid. So who sins, and doesn't get the divine aid? Obviously we understand that those who don't try to withstand their temptation, don't get this aid, but Tzadikim do. So your Kasha from Abaye doesn't prove anything accept for the fact that Abaye was worried about his Yetzer Horah and knew that he was susceptible. So he therefore did everything in his power, and succeeded. Basically I am in agreement to what Chaim said(even though he disassociates himself with me) in his post which starts "Getting back to the subject" and the following post.

      The Belzer Rebbe, Reb Aharon Z"L was tremendously carefully not to see women. It is told that even when he was on vacation he kept the blinds closed, and once the Gabboim begged him, while on vacation, to allow the blinds and the windows to be open for some fresh air because otherwise what's the use of the vacation. So after a lot of hard pressing he agreed. When he passed by the window, he saw a woman in the courtyard. It was his own Rebitzen, but he didn't know this. He was tremendously upset that he allowed himself to be convinced from the Gabbaim. So he had strong Syagim. It is totally impossible and inconceivable that he could been Nichshal in Znus. The Gemara would call it לא הי' ראוי.

    6. Abaye was saying that if he had been in a field with a woman he would have sinned. Rav Tzadok in Machshavos Charutz that Yoshke and Shabtzai Tzvi sinned because of their high spiritual level. Yosef HaTzadik would have sinned with his master's wife except for Divine intervention. You are claiming that there is always Divine intervention for a tzadik - Rabbeinu Tam says it simply isn't so. See the Rabbeinu Tam that Ploni cited that protection is guaranteed only for eating.

      The gemora in Kiddushin lists a number of incidents where talmidei chachomim lost control and tried to sin.

      Rav Tzadok mentions among the danger of kabbala is the increased yetzer harah for zenus. He indicates that there have been kabbalists who have failed the test.

      The Alter of Navordok basing himself on the pshat in Moreh Nevuchim says that Adam was told not to eat from the eitz hadaas because it would internalize the yetzer harah. The nachas told him that an internal yetzer harah was really no more difficult to control than an external one. If he had succeeded in controlling the yetzer harah in the sense that you describe he would have in fact lived for ever and never sinned. However an internal yetzer was too much even from Adam and he became mortal and sinned. If Adam sinned that why do you assume that later generations whom you acknowledge are on lower levels would succeed in fighting their yetzer harah?

    7. RDE and Eddie: Would you please tell me your understanding of these lines of Gemara, in light of what you have been saying that the Avos had our same emotions and psychology? Do you have a different pshat than everyone else?

      I don't know who "everyone else" is, but I have the Pshat of the Remak, the Arizal/Chaim Vital, the Leshem and the Ben Ish Hai, that this is speaking of how we should receive their words, their Torah.
      In a sense we should see them as though we can simply argue upon their words, and discard them without extremely good reason(such as the Gra had). This was not talking about the men themselves, their psychology or their yetzer hara.

      In fact the Arizal(Shaar Ruach HaKodesh drush 1), the Tal Orot(introduction) and Leshem(Biurim 2:18) say that in fact the later generations have purer souls that perform a greater avoda, then the early generations.

    8. nat says:

      "The Gemara says: Im harishonim kemalochim, anu kevnei adam. Im harishonim kevnei adam, anu kechamorim"

      The question is about DEGREES and absolutism.

      See the תוס' בשבת יב: that I quote later who brings the מדרש רבה בראשית פרק ס' that the הייליגע אמוראים סוף כל סוף WHERE נכשל in eating טבל and he said that they arent even like חמורו של ר פנחס בן יאיר

    9. Who is this Abaye you talk of Katche, is he your next door neighbor?

      Why do you write such unmitigated Chutzpa and stupidity? You're obviously relying on the likes of me to be Moiche.

    10. DT:

      i don't think katche is saying that "divine intervention" kept them from sinning, but rather that THEY had tremendous יראת שמים, and knowing that they were susceptible to sin, they made גדרים וסייגים.

      I just want to mention that not necessarily was the way to avoid sin MORE גדרים וסייגים of the type of "staying away".

      שערי תשובה שער א' מאמר לד brings HOW Dovid did תשובה:
      שערי תשובה א'-לד. העיקר הט' שבירת התאוה הגשמית ... ואמרו רבותינו זכרונם לברכה במה שכתוב (ש"ב כ) ותהיין צרורות עד יום מותן אלמנות חיות. בכל יום היה דוד מצוה להיטיב את ראשן ונותן תמרוקים לקשטן. כדי להציק לתאותו ולהכניעה. באשר יכבוש יצרו מהן. למען יתכפר לו על דבר בת שבע.

      In other words - he דוקא had them nearby and was כובש יצרו.

      An very important שטיקל, which לפענ"ד should be required reading, from רב אברהם בן הרמב"ם:

      ספר המספיק לרב אברהם בן הרמב"ם פרק י"א: אם אין מזגו מתאים לכך [מדבר שם אודות למנוע מנישואין כשאינו פטור ע"פ דין ולא קיים פו"ר, אבל יש ללמוד ממנו ארחות חיים לכל אדם בנסיונותיו] ויצרו פוחז עליו הריהו עליול לבוא לידי זנות שבלב על ידי כך שמחשבותיו סובבות מרבית עתותיו ועל זה אמרו חז"ל שהשיגו בשכלם את האמת הרהורי עברה קשין מעברה ... אף אשפר ש..כזה ישרה עליו מבוכה ומרה שחורה או באחד הימים יתגבר עליו יצרו הרע ויביאנו לידי זנות בגלוי. והלא ידעת מה שמספר על אבא חלקיה שהיתה אשתו יוצאת לקראתו מקשטת והשיב לשואטליו שלא אתן עיני באשה אחרת ואנו בארנו זאת כי אין כונתו שהיתה דעתו ע"ה טרודה במחשבה זו אלא כל כונתו היתה להשמר שאם יזדמן לו באחד הימים מפאת נטיתו הטבעית להרה בדבר הזה, שיהא נוגד את מאבקו הרוחני יהרהר בדבר מתר.
      ואלו אם יתחיל במאבקו הפרטי בהדרגה ובהכשרה נאותה על פי תכנית קבועה שפרטיה חסדרו ונעכרו והגדרו לכל אחד ואחד בהתאם לתכונותיו על ידי אחד ממורי החכמה והדת שנתחברו בו יראה וענוה וחכמה ובינה וחסידות, והגיע לעמקו ש המאבק על ידי נסיונות רבים ועבר על כל שלַבָּיו ויצא שלם מכל סכנותיו והגיע אל תכליתו, אז בטוח הוא מכל רע בהליכתו בדרך המאבק.

  6. "but Chazal also say in Avoda Zara (4b), that G-d forced the Jews to worship the Golden Calf and forced Dovid to have a sinful relationship with Batsheva in order to encourage repentance. "

    I have heard this kind of explanation, but it does not go well with my puny rationally trained mind, so i need to understand it better. Then , what happens if one is in the grip of sin, and justifies it by saying - well maybe i am being forced so i can do teshuva later?

    1. Hey Eddie, old chap,
      The Gemara says Kol makom shepakru haminim, teshuvasam betzidam. So I will direct you a little further within the same Gemara in Avoda Zara. The Gemara says LO HAYA DAVID RAUY LEOSO HAMAYSA, DECHTIV LIBI CHALAL BEKIRBI. Rashi says that the yetzer hara had NO shlita over him. So how exactly did he have the same emotions and psychology as you without any yetzer hara? And if G-d had to force him to do this, how does he have the same emotions and psychology as you, pray tell? And RDE, you are free to answer as well.

    2. Nat, I already spoke about this Gemara at length in response to DT, but he ignored it.


    3. You have not addressed my points and proofs.
      1. Veatoh Timshol Bo, Torah Tavil Etc - the entire point that I made
      2. Lo Haya Ra'ooy Etc
      3. Abaye was highly conscientious and cautious in fear of sin as The Belzer Rebbe story
      4. You took what I said about divine aid out of context. The Gemara says that we all need the divine aid in order not to sin. Please see and understand what I wrote about divine aid.
      5. Let me add Ploni's proof "The Gemara says: Im harishonim kemalochim, anu kevnei adam. Im harishonim kevnei adam, anu kechamorim"

      Please go back and reread what I wrote. It's true that I did not explain what the meaning is of Kol Hagadol Mechavero... It's not so hard to understand really, and it does not, by any means go against the position that is held by my group. Maybe I'll have time later to write an explanation, or you can too, if you will be so inclined. But my position is very well supported by the explanations and sources provided here by myself and others, and there is nothing in what you are saying which weakens it, as I have explained. The fact that great people have a Yetzer Horah and can sin, and the discussion of how literally to understand their sins, has no bearing on anything that I have said. . I already explained all of this.

      So if you need further clarification on any of the points I made, after you reread them, please let me know. Otherwise it would be expected for you to be Moideh Al Haemess

    4. Shalom Nat, thank you for your comments. I will give a few examples.

      Avraham had fear , like any human does, that is why he told Avimelech that Sarah is his sister. If he was a spiritual entity, as opposed to a physical one, he would feel no fear.

      Shlomo HaMelech, it says in melachim , loved many strange women (nochriot). Love for women is a human emotion. Even Mr Spock in star trek, who does not show emotions, wrongly uses the Kohen's sign, so it cannot be said that the Rishonim came from another planet.
      Eliyahu HaNavi, when he hears that Izzevel is killing the neviim and coming after him breaks down and asks Hashem to let him die. If Eilyahu , who taught Kabbalah to all the great Mekubalim had such normal human emotions,
      then I am sorry, but the greatest Mekubalim are not immune from emotion.

      When Moshe struck the rock, and for this lost his entrance into Eretz Yisroel, the Kli Yakar comments that he was guilty of bal tosif. He added to the Torah his own innovation. However this came about, it was due to at best an honest error, and at worst, chas v'shalom, but the Torah says he did not fear hashem in that matter.

      The Rambam, who in Sefer Madda writes about the planets and sun going around the earth, writes in the Guide, that he observed something called epicycles. These are what occur from earthly vantage point, since in fact, the planets are going around the sun, and not the earth. This observation contradicted his halachic theory. However, despite him being a genius, and beyond our comprehension in Torah and intellect, he could not make the scientific paradigm shift that was made a few centuries later. he leaves it as an open question. So he had human limits in intellect, but i would argue, he may have been too attached to he preconception, since it was - in his view - a halachic matter than the sun goes round the earth. I hope this is not taken as heresy - i am talking of Rambam the astronomer.

    5. The gemora in Avoda Zara (4b) that says that Dovid haMelech had no yetzer harah is apparently inconsistent with the gemora in Sanhedrin (21a) where it says he had 400 children born from yefos to'ar (which are only permitted to someone who has an overwhelming yetzer harah).
      Sanhedrin (22a)What are the facts regarding Abishag? — It is written: King David was old, stricken in years etc. His servants said unto him, Let there be sought etc. Further it is written, They sought for him a fair damsel etc.; and it is written, And the damsel [Abishag] was very fair, and she became a companion to the king and ministered unto him.27 She said to him, ‘Let us marry,’ but he [David] said: ‘Thou art forbidden to me.’28 ‘When courage fails the thief, he becomes virtuous,’29 she gibed. Then he said to them [his servants], ‘Call me Bath-Sheba’. And we read: And Bath-Sheba went to the king into the chamber.30 Rab Judah said in Rab's name: On that occasion Bath-Sheba dried herself thirteen times.31

      Sanhedrin(107a): Rab Judah said in Rab's name: One should never [intentionally] bring himself to the test, since David king of Israel did so, and fell. He said unto Him, ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Why do we say [in prayer] "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," but not the God of David?’ He replied, ‘They were tried by me, but thou wast not.’ Then, replied he, ‘Sovereign of the Universe, examine and try me’ — as it is written, Examine me, O Lord, and try me.2 He answered ‘I will test thee, and yet grant thee a special privilege;3 for I did not inform them [of the nature of their trial beforehand], yet, I inform thee that I will try thee in a matter of adultery.’ Straightway, And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed etc.4 R. Johanan said: He changed his night couch to a day couch,5 but he forgot the halachah: there is a small organ in man which satisfies him in his hunger but makes him hunger when satisfied.6 And he walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon.7 Now Bath Sheba was cleansing her hair behind a screen,8 when Satan came to him, appearing in the shape of a bird. He shot an arrow at him, which broke the screen, thus she stood revealed, and he saw her. Immediately, And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath Sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her, and she came unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanliness: and she returned unto her house.9 Thus it is written, Thou host proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; thou host tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.10 He said thus: ‘Would that a bridle had fallen into the mouth of mine enemy [i.e., himself], that I had not spoken thus.’11
      Raba expounded: What is meant by the verse, To the Chief Musician, A Psalm of David. In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?12 David pleaded before the Holy One, blessed be He: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Forgive me that sin, that men may not say, "Your mountain [sc. the king] has been put to flight by a bird."’13

      Raba expounded: What is meant by the verse, Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest?14 David pleaded before the Holy One, blessed be He: ‘Thou knowest full well that had I wished to suppress my lust, I could have done so, but, thought I, let them [the people] not say, "The servant triumphed against his Master."’15

    6. "‘Thou knowest full well that had I wished to suppress my lust, I could have done so, but, thought I, let them [the people] not say, "The servant triumphed against his Master."’15"

      This seems to my limited understanding - to be a very difficult statement.
      It implies that this was an aveira lishma. The intent was so that people will not say....

      But if this actually happened, then it backfired since:

      a) He did not become the 4th of the Avot
      b) The Navi Nathan harshly criticised David, and said because of this the sword will not depart from his house and his Kingdom will be taken away from him, not to mention that the son born the Bathsheva dies.
      c) After David prays, he is forgiven - so he did actually sin.

    7. @Katche-lab your description of tzadikim who have to hide from the world in order not to be tempted - is not my understanding of controlling the yetzer harah. It does not seem consistent with AZ (4b) where Dovid haMelech is described as having successfully destroyed his yetzer harah.

      At the same time as I have noted there are many sources which indicate that the tzadikim have not only not destroyed their yetzer harah but are in fact more susceptible to its influence and therefore have to make additional fences to avoid sinning that lesser people do not need.

      Additionally you bring up the issue of yeridos hadoros - with the apparent assumption that the meaning of the gemora is obvious. But it is far from obvious. For example look at Berachos (20a): Where it is clearly stated that earlier generations were significantly inferior in Torah learning to later generations but the earlier generations had greater yiras shamayim as exemplified by extreme zealotry. So do you consider the gemora's definition of man vs donkey as being the result of extremism?

      In addition the Maharal discuss the gemora and indicates that the superiority is the result - not of greatness in Torah or spirituality but rather in self-awareness!

      So how do you understand the gemora and where do you see that it is true for all generations?

      In addition you should not that the Beis Yosef says that the authority of Tannaim of Amoraim as well as the authority of the Talmud itself is simply because it was accepted by the masses. He makes no reference to the superiority of the previous generations (as the Chazon Ish points out). The Rambam also does not base authority on the idea of descent of the generations.

      In sum, your definition of superior regarding the yetzer harah is not meaningful if it entails adding additional protective measures to ensure protectiong against sin. That doesn't mean superiority but greater caution. And the descent of the generation is not defined nor is stated as a principle that is part of the historical development of the Jewish people.

    8. Daas Torah,
      You have here addressed only one of my points. I assume that that means you see that I have proven my position but are simply asking for clarity about this one point.

      Who says it's a Machlokes? There is no reason to make this into a Machlokes. The Yerushalmi Sota 5,5 clearly says that 'Chalal' means that he 'killed' the Yetzer Horah because he indeed had a strong yetzer horah. See Korba ha'edah there who explains this clearly, and also see Tania Perek 1. By the way, the Tania there brings another Chaza'l which says what my group are saying - Tzadikim Yetzer Tov Shoftam. Also see The Maharsha in Avoida Zara there who explains Lo Hoyu Re'ooyim, that Hashem should have protected them from such a sin and the Torah should have protected them, which is also as I said - Buruch Shekivanti to the Maharsha. But it is not out of my wisdom that I was Mechaven to The Maharsha, only that I am following the trodden path or our Mesorah and the opposing view is new and unsupported and incorrect.

      In your final paragraph of your post "Raba expounded: What is meant by the verse, Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest?14 David pleaded before the Holy One, blessed be He: ‘Thou knowest full well that had I wished to suppress my lust, I could have done so, but, thought I, let them [the people] not say, "The servant triumphed against his Master."’15"

      This is as I explained earlier that to get a Tzadik to sin, the Nesoyon had to be something about Kvod Shomayim.

      So now again I ask you to please either ask for additional clarity if needed, or be Moideh.

    9. DT, I am here responding to your post which begins "@Katche-lab your description of tzadikim"

      All of your points here are irrelevant to the discussion, and I will show that. I refer to your statements by numbering of the paragraphs in your post.

      1. A Jew must do all he can by hook or by crook not to sin. I think you should agree to this. If you believe that there are other ways besides what you call hiding from the world, fine. But it can't be that an ehrlicher Yid, being full aware of the yetzer horah does nothing to protect himself and prevent sinning, So therefore the discussion of exactly how, is irrelevant. Dovid hamelech Destroyed his Yetzer Hora(somehow through some sort of avoida) as Chazal say, and I have already disproved your claim that there is a Machlokes about this. See the Korban Ha'edah I cited in the last post.

      Furthermore it says Vayehi Dovid Lachol Derochov Maskil, which means that his behavior was impeccable, VaHshem Imo, Shehalocho kemoso bechol Makom, so he was the greates Gadol Batorah. And Hashem was 'Boicher Bedovid' and that proves that he was the worthiest - see the end of Rashi Bamidbar 12,8 Ve'im...

      2. Being more susceptible does not prove that they don't take all necessary steps to prevent sin. Aderabah, if they know they are susceptible they take more preventative measures. THE EXISTENCE OF THESE PREVENTATIVE MEASURES IS EXACTLY WHAT IS MEANT THAT THEY DESTROYED THE YETZER HORA.

      3+. I don't see that for the purpose of our conversation it matters the exact explanation of Yeridas Hadoros. It is mentioned in many many places. I don't have time right now . Just off the top of my head, see Tur in the Beginning of Hilchos Nida, Rav Hamagid hilchos yichud why The Rambam omits the law of Ksherim, Ramba"m hakdomo to Yad.

      The accurate expression used is Nismmatu Halevavos - The devotion has diminished, but through that, of course, the scholastic level decreased as well.

      For sources, may I ask whoever wants to help me in this to supply some. I didn't realize how involving this would get and I have to get on with the other things in my life.

    10. @Katche-lab I see we are talking passed each other. 1) The gemoras that I cited seem to be contradicting the gemora in Avoda Zara (4b) that says he detroyed his yetzer harah. 2) You can't have it both ways. If a tzadik has developed great control of his yetzer harah - he doesn't require locking himself in a room with the blinds drawn so he doesn't see a woman! 3) You can't talk about the generations being diminished without specifiying what is being diminished - epecially when their seems to be no consistent understanding of the matter.

      In sum, you are simply making declarations that are not supported by the sources or at most only some of the sources and you ignore the rest. You have not refuted my basic assertion that the Mussar principle which you say is your Mesorah - is not found in Chazal or Rishonim or Kabbala but seems to have been a recent development connected with the Mussar Movement

  7. Daas Torah,

    I think that the relevancy of the Chazon Ish's words is limited. He does not discuss Tzadikim such as the Avos, whose great loftiness is described by Tanach and Chazal - he seems to just be talking about the general populace.

    1. Chaim regarding your point. I have found no evidence to support your contention. In fact as I noted elsewhere - the principle you are adhering to - I can not find an explicit mention of this in Chazal, Rishonim or the Maharal. It is also clear from the Leshem that he is not advocating this principle and from what Rabbi Tzadok cited - it would seem it is not a principle in Kabbala. If you have explicit sources outside of Mussar that states such a principle - please tell me where.

    2. DT,

      Gut Voch!

      First, I must say that when I wrote the following reply, I had not yet read your citation of R' Tzadok because it wasn't in this thread. I have now done so and realise that I need to address it in a future post. I still, however, stand by everything I write below.

      I note, however, that the fact that whilst dismissing all Sefarim of the Baalei Mussar, you consider Rav Tzadok a suitable source for this discussion. To avoid the assumption of inconsistency, I therefore assume that Chassidishe Sefarim ARE acceptable sources when discussing the sins of the righteous - that stands to reason, doesn't it? I must bear this in mind when I address the issue of יצרו גדול הימנו in a future post.

      1. Your silence on the Chazon Ish indicates that you concede that his words cannot be adduced when discussing great Tzaddikim. Therefore, we are both lacking evidence; our positions are therefore (in this regard) equally strong.

      2. Please don't lump me in together with everyone else in the "non-Eddie crowd" - I am not Nat, Katche-lab, Ploni etc. and do not necessarily share their views. I too find it annoying when great contortions are made in order to explain how every sin mentioned in Tanach is only some sort of Mashal and reflects a פגם so unimaginably small that we can't really understand what it is. Apart from this being false (and in many times לענ"ד bordering on מגלה פנים בתורה שלא כהלכה), it also renders the narrative irrelevant, whereas it is clear from Tanach and Chazal that we ARE supposed to learn from the sins of our fathers.
      [My father-in-law told me how he once heard somebody say a deep, דקותדיק and convoluted Pshat in Korach' Machlokes against Moshe Rabbeinu to Rav Moshe Shapiro שליט"א. Rav Moshe curtly replied: "There's no Chazal which says "כל האומר קרח חטא אינו אלא טועה""]

      I think that the Machlokes between the Chazon Ish and Baalei Musar is very related to another Machlokes they have in the area of Tikun HaMidos. The Baalei Musar teach that a person should plumb the depths of his psyche in order to root out subliminal, subconscious flaws. The Chazon Ish argued and said, just do everything you KNOW to be right, and avoid everything you KNOW to be wrong, and ממילא that will change the sort of person you are...

    3. Getting back to the subject, the argument between us (which is difficult for me to gauge seeing as you haven't replied to my other post) is not as large as you think. Of course even the greatest צדיקים were human. They had flaws and were not superhuman. The Gemara in Brachos which asks why Yaakov was afraid of Esav does so not because "היתכן that Yaakov would be afraid of Esav??!" - but rather only because he had received an explicit message of divine protection from Hashem. Obviously the prospect of Yaakov being afraid of Esav does not bother the Gemara in and of itself.

      Sometimes, צדיקים even sinned, as we see many times in Tanach and Chazal.

      But the fact remains that as a simple matter of logic, the greater a Tzaddik, the less likely he is to be נכשל in sins a lesser person would stumble over. R' Moshe Feinstein זצ"ל was far less likely to speak לשון הרע than Average Yankel on the street. There must be Aveiros which, if you would hear about R' Moshe, you would simply shake your head and say, "Impossible" - no less than you would do if somebody accused your father of an activity which you know doesn't par with his character. If I heard Yankel being accused of verbally abusing his wife, or cursing at his kids, I might believe it (the Issur of קבלת לה"ר aside). If somebody told me that about R' Moshe, then, knowing what I do about him, I would say that I am absolutely certain that the man is lying,

      If you don't agree with me so far, then don't read on.

    4. If you do, then why are we in disagreement? I believe that yes, Yehuda, one of the שבטי קה who was זוכה למלכות and is the progenitor of מלכות בית דוד and Mashiach - and there are more statements about his greatness in Chazal - was a greater צדיק than Rav Moshe Feinstein, and therefore the character flaws which Rabbi ML attributes to him are ridiculous, and his doing so is therefore mischievous and highly irresponsible. Apart from dishonestly implying that Yehuda was sinning by doing זנות, a position untrue acc. to any opinion, he also ignores an explicit Possuk - the one upon which he is commenting! - in his quest to fault-find and defame Yehuda.

      I am sure that RML is a competent Halachic scholar. Even after knowing that the MO's views of our forefather's greatness is much different that that of Chazal's, the question still remains - how could he have made such basic errors when writing this article? I don't have a real answer, but it might be something along the lines of what R' Eliezer Gordon זצ"ל wrote in תשובות רבי אליעזר ח"ב ע' כט to a Talmid Chacham who wrote unacceptable things about Noach HaTzadik:

      ובאמת לפי ערך מעלת כתר"ה לא היה לו להביא ראיה מופרכת מינה ובה כזאת, אף כדניים ושכיב, רק ה' אנה לידו טעות כזאת מפני שזלזל בכבודו של אותו צדיק, אף שאין כת"ר ראוי לטעות כזאת בשום אופן

      Still waiting for your response to my other post,


    5. When there is no explicit criticism of Tzadikim in Tanach or Chazal, Ramchal (מאמר על ההגדות) tells us that it is wrong to invent our own:

      דרך משל: כשדרש ר"מ פסוק "עד שהמלך במסבו" (שה"ש א' י"ב), לגנותן של ישראל, אמרו לו: "אין דורשין שיר השירים לגנאי אלא לשבח" (שה"ש רבה א' י"ב), לפי שכך היה הכלל בידם, ונמצא הדורשו לגנאי נוטה מכונת רוח הקודש. וכן כשדרש ר' לוי, שאברהם מצא עצמו נמול, א"ר ברכיה: "בההיא עיתא אקיל ר' אבא בר כהנא לר' לוי" וגו' (רבה בראשית מ"ז ט'), וזה מפני כלל שבידיהם, שבמעשה הצדיקים, כל מה שיש לדרוש לשבח צריך לדרוש לשבח, וברשעים להיפך, שכך היא הקבלה, שכונתו של הבורא ית' במלות שהכתיב, שהיתה לרמוז על כל פרטי הרשע של הרשעים ולבאר כל חלקי גנותם, ולהיפך בצדיקים, להעלים כל מה שאפשר שיהיה בהם מהגנאי, ולבאר כל מה שבשבחם, ומי שרוצה לדרוש דרש אמיתי, צריך שילך לשיטת הכותב, שאז יסכים לדעתו, וזה פשוט.

      Rav YC Sofer Shlita adds the following sources who corroborate Ramchal's words (I haven't yet seen them inside):

      Shut Ralbach 126

      Mevo HaTalmud (מהרצ"ח) Chapter 21

      R. Yosef Zecharya Stern in Maamar Tahaluchos HaAgados Chapter 9

      Mishnas Yaakov (Shur) page 90

      I have to go and have Melave Malka now...

    6. Chaim: 1. Your silence on the Chazon Ish indicates that you concede that his words cannot be adduced when discussing great Tzaddikim. Therefore, we are both lacking evidence; our positions are therefore (in this regard) equally strong.

      I wrote a general reply to you which included your comment on the Chazon Ish. I don't see any basis for your distinction.

    7. Chaim I would suggest you read the Leshem - I left out his discussion of why Chazal said that Yosef intented to sin and why should they say that when the Torah doesn't actually say it. Thus Chazal either disagree with the Ramchal or the Ramchal is not discussing Chazal.

      Regarding another comment you made - I am not disregarding Mussar seforim. I am was just noting the idea that whe Tanach describes great people sinning it is not to be taken literally because they were so much bigger than us - I have not found stated explicitly anywhere outside of Mussar seforim.

      The Chazon Ish is not talking about making an inference that a sin was done - he is talking about explicity statements in Tanach or Chazal.

      In sum, you seem to have misunderstood what my point was. Please reread the Chazon Ish and Leshem carefully - preferrably in the original Hebrew. They are not saying what Rav Dessler said in Michav M'Eliyahu 1:161 that I added to the original post.

    8. Perhaps we are both misunderstanding each other? :-)

    9. Apart from dishonestly implying that Yehuda was sinning by doing זנות, a position untrue acc. to any opinionI

      The Ben Ish Has somehow seems to be ignorant of this apparent truth:

    10. Apart from dishonestly implying that Yehuda was sinning by doing זנות, a position untrue acc. to any opinion
      Rashi also seems to be ignorant of this precept of which you speak.

    11. It's very important to look up Rabbi Michael Tzadok's sources when he supplies them, because it gives you a gauge of how genuine his sources are when he doesn't, but claims that "the Arizal, Ramchal, Ben Ish Chai" etc. all agree to something that sounds a bit strange...

    12. Apart from dishonestly implying that Yehuda was sinning by doing זנות, a position untrue acc. to any opinion

      Ramban and the Kli Yakar also seem to be ignorant of this precept, and use the word znus , and add that it was intentional.

    13. ChaimFebruary 23, 2014 at 6:43 PM
      It's very important to look up Rabbi Michael Tzadok's sources when he supplies them, because it gives you a gauge of how genuine his sources are when he doesn't, but claims that "the Arizal, Ramchal, Ben Ish Chai" etc. all agree to something that sounds a bit strange...

      You keep accusing others of ad hom attacks and degenerating to insults, but here you go. As so as you are given logic and sources you go right for the ad hom.

      Please simply admit that your supposed universally accepted precept for which you so far have not been able to give a single source, was wrong.

    14. Eddie:

      znus = sexual relations without marriage

      sexual relations without marriage were permitted before the giving of the Torah acc. to everybody.

      ergo, znus (yes, even intentional znus) was permitted before matan torah acc. to everybody.


    15. Rabbi MT,

      I seriously wonder whether, if we were having this debate face-to-face, we would still both not understand what on earth the other one is going on about, or perhaps things would be different. Some part of me suspects that it is this medium of "posting on threads" that is somehow incapable, at least for me and my co-disputants, of conveying with clarity and accuracy the ideas which we are trying to impart to one another. I'm not sure if the "multi-player" nature of the game contributes towards this problem - there may be other factors at play. Does this make any sense to you?

    16. Chaim what you say make a lot of sense. Unfortunately we are working in the framework of a blog.

    17. I'm not complaining, just noting a הרגשה that I had. I also (believe it or not) am not a fan of Machlokes, and perhaps that influences me in wanting to believe that, absent the aforementioned constraints, I could sit down with some of the people whom I am fiercely (!) disputing and have an amicable Torah discussion, להגדיל תורה ולהאדירה. Perhaps I am dreaming?

  8. The Leshem's statement is explicit in that Chazal's words about the אישי התנ"ך are to be understood literally BECAUSE EVERYTHING THEY SAID WAS SAID WITH RUACH HAKODESH. This means 2 things:

    (1) Anyone without Ruach HaKodesh is not necessarily entitled to say a derogatory word about the Avos - and if he is, then he cannot base himself on this Leshem;

    (2) The huge amount of Rishonim and Acharonim who disagree with the Leshem's premise mean that his corollary statement about analysing דברי חז"ל can definitely not be taken as universally accepted (to put it mildly)

    1. (1) Anyone without Ruach HaKodesh is not necessarily entitled to say a derogatory word about the Avos - and if he is, then he cannot base himself on this Leshem
      This is an unjustified leap of logic. The Leshem(based on the Arizal's Mamrei Chazal) is saying that Chazal is able to say things that are not explicitly mentioned in the Tanakh because they had Ruach HaKodesh.

      So yes we cannot today say that one of the Tzadikim committed some sin not explicitly stated in Tanakh or Chazal(unless one is chutzpadik enough to claim Ruach HaKodesh), however if it is explicitly stated we have the ability(as with all other things) to rely on their Ruach HaKodesh.

      (2) The huge amount of Rishonim and Acharonim who disagree with the Leshem's premise mean that his corollary statement about analysing דברי חז"ל can definitely not be taken as universally accepted (to put it mildly)
      Please bring them, and show sources. The system of the Leshem is to discuss things fround in the Kitvei HaAri(everything he writes can be found in the Kitvei) with an explanation based on a fusion of the system of the Rashash and the Gra. As such the Leshem is firmly grounded in the Rishonim and Acharonim. If you want to claim otherwise you need to bring sources.

    2. To say that every word of Chazal was said with ruach HaKodesh, is to say that Chazal are infallible in everything they say, ie they never made any mistakes about anything. If you check the numerous pro/anti Slifkin blogs, including his own, you will see how many sources there are that do not accept this claim, your talk about Kabbalistic fusion notwithstanding. See Ramban - who I think qualifies as a Kabbalist - in his ויכוח, where he clearly divides statements of Chazal into various categories, some of which (generally the Halachos) were said based on a Mesora and are therefore authoritative, and some of which (generally the Agados) they thought of on their own, which are not. The Rambam already wrote this in Moreh Nevuchim, and until relatively recently it was so accepted as to be unremarkable. E.g. the Abarbanel, who never blinks twice about arguing with the Rambam, cites him on this without remark. This is also the underlying rationale for Tosfos Yom Tov's assertion (Nazir 5:5) that as long as it does not affect the Halacha, we may explain Pesukim and even Mishnayos in ways differently from Chazal. I prefer not to elaborate on this too much, because of the open nature of this blog.
      Also, the Ramchal (Kabbalist) in Maamar Agados is clear that Chazal based their Drashos on following a set of Divine rules, which led to mistakes sometimes being made (and rectified), not that everything simply came to them through Ruach HaKodesh.
      In the world of Kabbala itself, I may be unversed, but I do know enough to know that the holy Leshem זצ"ל is not universally accepted.

    3. To say that every word of Chazal was said with ruach HaKodesh, is to say that Chazal are infallible in everything they say, ie they never made any mistakes about anything.
      Simply not true.

      In the world of Kabbala itself, I may be unversed, but I do know enough to know that the holy Leshem זצ"ל is not universally accepted.
      Another absurd statement. The Leshem is learned in all the holy Kabbalistic Yeshivot, and is, at least there, universally accepted, thus he has had incredible influence in the Sephardi world, and lest we forget his last name(Elyashiv) he was the Grandfather of the recently departed Posek Hador, so I would be venture to say that his works are taken rather seriously in the Ashkenazi world as well.

      that as long as it does not affect the Halacha, we may explain Pesukim and even Mishnayos in ways differently from Chazal.
      This is completely opposite what you were claiming in previous posts.

    4. Chaim - interesting point you make. Have you left the non-Eddie camp? ;)

      I was making similar assertions, but less extreme, about the Ramchal, but I wasn't aware that he suggested that Chazal did make mistakes!

    5. Rabbi MT,

      1. What is Ruach HaKodesh if it does not produce truth?

      2. Sorry, but I know people who know Kabbala as well as I know... well, never mind! They are at least as נאמן to me as you are. The last-name argument is ridiculous.

      Eddie, I don't think there's enough space in the camp you are advertising for the both of us! (It's pretty packed as it is!)

      And come on - read the Ramchal - he says that mistakes were made AND THEN CORRECTED because they didn't conform to the G-d-given rules of exposition and exegesis.

  9. The correct understanding of the story of Dovid and Batsheva is as follows: Technically, because all who went out to war issued a get to their wives, just in case a situation arose which might make their wives an aguna, , therefore, according to the letter of the law, she was not married. Perhaps, Dovid had a halachic basis to send Batsheva's husband to the front lines, as well. This is what Chazal meant when they said Kol hamoer Dovid chata eino ella toeh. Nevertheless, it was an egregious failing of ethics and violation of the spirit of the law. Aditionally, the perception of the masses was that he had taken somebody's wife. For this reason, the Navi came to Dovid with a mashal of a poor man who only has one sheep, and then a rich man who has plenty of sheep goes ahead and takes the poor man's single sheep. It was not an issue of adultery. It was an issue of how on earth could you treat another human that way. Where was your sense of compassion and justice? The lesson is that the first requirement of a Jew is to ask am I acting properly. Only then is one to ask about whether I am technically allowed. As Rabbi Soloveitchik once said, the halacha is not the ceiling of morality, it is the floor. We expect our leaders to go way above the minimum. This is related to the concept of lifnim mishuras hadin. The entire Torah is about one thing: Menschlachkeit.

    1. The correct understanding of the story of Dovid and Batsheva is as follows: Technically, because all who went out to war issued a get to their wives, just in case a situation arose which might make their wives an aguna, , therefore, according to the letter of the law, she was not married.

      Sorry Barry but the Rav Chaim Vital and the Chida simply do not see it that way, and they bring a lot of statements from Chazal to back them up. They clearly say that David Hamelekh committed Eshet Ish.

      See last paragraph on pg 15 of this document(עמוד י"ז by the original page numbers) through the next page.

    2. Barry:

      what you're saying is ALSO obviously true. The question, is still whether or not we should also believe that an actual sin was done.

    3. Rabbi MT, this is getting tedious. You can't argue with a Gemara in Kesubos by saying that a group of your chosen Gedolim "don't see it that way". All you can say is that there is a different Chazal on the subject, in which case the issue simply becomes one of thousands of arguments Chazal had. And you don't need to look very far - there are 2 answers in the Gemara in Kesubos, and the Rishonim there argue about whether the 2 answers are in agreement or not.

    4. Chaim,
      You have yet to offer up a source. Or deal with the rather lengthy group of sources from Chazl that the Marchu and the Chida bring. You and Nat started this argument saying that there was no place to say that the Avot(or anyone else in the Tanakh or previous generations) sinned, and that to do so goes against all sources.
      Then when you are presented with sources you obfuscate. I would kindly like to you try to actually deal with the sources.

    5. I think that all your posts which make no sense to me at all, could be explained in one fell swoop when somebody tells me what you mean by a "source".

    6. ChaimFebruary 24, 2014 at 1:12 AM
      I think that all your posts which make no sense to me at all, could be explained in one fell swoop when somebody tells me what you mean by a "source".

      I take this to mean that you are willing to deal with the material at hand and sources in words of our sages, but once again wish to resort to insults. So we find ourselves at the same impasse as we did on the previous thread.

  10. I’ll mention several מקורות & attempt to Iy”h synthesize the seemingly contradictory Chazal’s. The מקורות are noted after the main points.

    1) The essence of a Tzaddik is someone who has trained himself that מוח שליט על הלב, which means that his נפש המתאווה\חומר - which rests in the heart - may WANT to do the wrong things, but his שכל\צורה takes over and doesn’t let it happen. Therefore, he RARELY sin.

    2) Through much יגיעה and the proper הכנה, great Tzadikim are זוכה that the נפש המתאווה no longer even wants to do bad. This is the בחינה of ולבי חלל בקרבי.

    3) Nevertheless, very infrequently, Tzadikim DO fail. They can sin, אדם אין צדיק בארץ אשר יעשה טוב ולא יחטא.

    4) In the infrequent cases that Tzadikim sin, they do NOT repeat the sin, and they do תשובה.

    5) Since Tzadikim sin very infrequently, we are OBLIGATED to assume that they probably did NOT sin. However, if we do see a ת"ח sinning, בשעת מעשה there is a חיוב תוכחה. Later on, according to the C”C there is, and according to the יד הקטנה there isn’t. This might be the explanation of Chaim’s stance & the Ramchal Chaim quotes – we דרש'ן צדיקים לשבח because of מידת האמת – since they rarely sin, we have no right to assume the exception, unless we KNOW that there is a יוצא מן הכלל. Chaim mentions the Gemara about אם ראה ת"ח שעבר עבירה ביום, I wanted to add the Halacha of תוכחה.

    6) Because of our weak intellect, strong תאווה, laziness & predilection to prurient interests, we have a very weak grasp of the depth of earlier generations, and of אגדות חז"ל.

    Some מקורות:

    For #1:
    שערי תשובה לר"י, שער א'-מאמר ו': ועתה בינה שמעה זאת כי הוא עיקר גדול. אמת כי יש מן הצדיקים שנכשלים בחטא לפעמים. כענין שנאמר (קהלת ז) כי אדם אין צדיק בארץ אשר יעשה טוב ולא יחטא. אכן כובשים את יצרם מאת פניהם. ואם יפלו בחטא פעם אחת לא ישנו לו. ונקוטו בפניהם. וחוזרים בתשובה.

    אורחה"ק אחרי יח-ב: אתם בני ישראל לצד היותי ה' אלקיכם ... בכח האלקי ינוצח כח הטבעי גשמי כי הצורה תשלוט בחומר כשיסכים איש ישראל להתדבק בה' אלקים ישלוט בטבעו ... הצדיקים לבם מסור בידם והרשעים הם מסורים ביד לבם הכוונה בזה כי החפץ והחשק ישנו בלב האדם והרצון הוא במוחו והם ב מדריגות שנתצן האדון בבני אדם וכשתזדמן לאדם דבר ערוה הלב חומד' ואין במר בחימוד זה ויכול הרצון התלוי במוח למנוע החפץ ולא יעשנו הגם שיחמוד, הלא תמצא בבני אדם שמקבלים תענית הגם שהחפץ יתגבר בהם לאכול יבא הרצון וימנענו וכן עז"ה וצדיקים תמיד מתנהגים כסדר זה ולבם מסור בידם שהגם שיתאוו תאוה בלבם יבחר השכל שהוא הנשמה ואם ישנו באזהרה מה' או מכללי התיעוב ישלול הרצון בו וימנע החפץ הגם שישנו .... שבחינת הנשמה בה ה' משרה אור שכינתו באדם בסוד אהל שכן באדם ומצד זה יש כח באדם לנצח החפץ לפני הרצון ...
    For #2:
    רבינו בחיי נצבים כ"ט י"ח עה"פ בשרירות לבי אלך: בחירת המעשים מסורת בידו של אדם לטוב ולרע הוא שכתוב ראה נתתי לפניך היום את החיים ואת הטוב ואת המות ואת הרע וכגו' ובחרת בחיים, גם בחירת המחשבה מסורה בידו אחר ההכנות כי נצטוה שיחשוב מחשבה טובה ונזהר שיפנה לבו מלחשוב מחשבה רעה ... ותקנתו ורפואתו שישתדל בהכנות והוא שיכין לבו ומחשבותיו אל השם יתעלה ולו ישעבד ויכוף מחשבתו במחשבה טובה ובכשרון המפעלים ואם באת המחשבה הרעה שיגער בה שאם אינו גוער בה והיא עומדת בלבו הנה הוא נענש. וכאשר יתמיד מחשבתו זאת זמן רב ויכין לבו לאהבת השם יתברך ולקרבה אליו וללכת בדרכיו גם ה' יתן הטוב ויגמלהו כצדקו שיכין לבו שלא יחשוב בדבר רע ולא יעלה במחשבתו רק טוב ועל זה אמרו בא לטהר מסייעין אותו ורבים הכתובים על העיקר הזה וכו'.

    רבינו יונה משלי יא-כג: תאות צדיקים אך טוב – הודיענו כי לא יחשב האיש צדיק עד שיבער מקרבו כל תאוה רעה ולא תשאר במורשי לבבו זולתי תאות הטוב .. ותאות התענוגים והשררות והבלי העולם זולתי תאות הטוב וכן אמר דוד המלך עה ה' נגדך כל תאותי גלוי לפניך כי לא תלוה אליה תאות רע.

    אורחה"ק הנ"ל: שנתכוון דוד ע"ה במה שאמר לעשות רצונך אלקי חפצתי ותורתך בתוך מעי הכוונה היא שמרוב דביקתו באדון האדונים יתברך שמו לעד עד שגם הלב נתהפך לעשות כמעשה הנשמה שבא החפץ בו והתאוה לעשות רצונו יתברך.

  11. For #3:
    אמר ר' ישמעאל בן אלישע אני אקרא ולא אטה פעם א' קרא ובקש להטות אמר כמה גדולים דברי חכמים שהיו אומרים לא יקרא לאור הנר ר' נתן אומר קרא והטה - שבת יב: תוס' ד"ה רבי נתן אומר קרא והטה. הכא ובמכות (דף ר:) גבי יהודה בן טבאי שהרג עד זומם ובהאשה רבה (יבמות דף צו:) גבי הא שנקרע ס''ת בחמתן לא פריך ומה בהמתן של צדיקים אין הקב''ה מביא תקלה כו' אומר ר''ת דלא פריך בשום מקום אלא גבי אכילת איסור שגנאי הוא לצדיק ביותר וההוא דערבי פסחים (כסחים דף קג: ושם) דר' ירמיה אישתלי וטעים קודם הבדלה והנהו דמס' ר''ה (דף כא.) דקאמר בסים תבשילא דבבלאי בצומא רבה דמערבא התם לא הוה מאכל איסור אלא השעה אסורה ובבראשית רבה אמרינן ר' ירמיה שלח לר' זירא חד טרסקל דתאנים ומסיק בין דין לדין מתאכל תאנתא בטבלא הא קאמר עלה ר' אבא בר זימנא בשם ר' אליעזר זעירא אם. הראשונים מלאכים אנו בני אינש ואם הם בני אינש אנו כחמורים ולא כחמורו של ר' פנחס בן יאיר: וע' גם תוס' גיטין ז. ד"ה השתא בהמתן.

    For #4:
    שערי תשובה לר"י, שער א'-מאמר ו': ועתה בינה שמעה זאת כי הוא עיקר גדול. אמת כי יש מן הצדיקים שנכשלים בחטא לפעמים. … ואם יפלו בחטא פעם אחת לא ישנו לו. ונקוטו בפניהם. וחוזרים בתשובה.

    For #5:
    חפץ חיים הל' לשה"ר כל ד-ד ובבמ"ח: הלכות לשון הרע כלל ד – ד: וְכָל זֶה שֶׁכָּתַבְנוּ הוּא אֲפִלּוּ אִם הוּא רַק אָדָם בֵּינוֹנִי בִּשְׁאָר דְּבָרִים, וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן אִם הוּא אִישׁ תַּלְמִיד חָכָם וִירֵא חֵטְא, אַךְ עַתָּה גָּבַר יִצְרוֹ עָלָיו, (ו)אָסוּר אֲפִלּוּ לְהַרְהֵר אַחֲרָיו כִּי בְּוַדַּאי עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה, וְאַף אִם יִצְרוֹ נִתְחַזֵּק עָלָיו פַּעַם אַחַת, נַפְשׁוֹ מָרָה לוֹ אַחַר כָּךְ עַל זֶה וּלְבָבוֹ יָרֵא וְחָרֵד מְאֹד עַל אַשְׁמָתוֹ, וּכְמוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ חֲזַ''ל: אִם רָאִיתָ תַּלְמִיד חָכָם, שֶׁעָבַר עֲבֵרָה בַּלַּיְלָה אַל תְּהַרְהֵר אַחֲרָיו בַּיּוֹם, שֶׁבְּוַדַּאי עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה. באר מים חיים: (יח) וכל זה וכו'. ... ודע דכתב בספר יד הקטנה בפ''ט מהלכות דיעות שלו בדין כ''ד דאסור אפילו להוכיחו בינו לבין עצמו אפילו בדרך תוכחת מוסר, ויראה מפני שבודאי עשה תשובה. ולא תקשה עליו ממ''ש בבבא מציעא (דף ל''א) דמצות הוכחה הוא אפילו תלמיד לרב ... יש לומר דדוקא למחר ולאחר זמן צריך להחזיק בודאי שעשה תשובה וכדמשמע לישנא אם ראית וכו' בלילה אל תהרהר אחריו ביום שבודאי עשה תשובה אבל בעת מעשה גופא בודאי חייב להוכיחו. אמנם בעיקר הדין דהיד הקטנה צע''ג אם הלכה כדבריו, דנראה לענ''ד דדין הגמרא הוא רק לענין לימוד זכות, אבל לא לפטור על ידי זה ממצות עשה דאורייתא של הוכחה ... וצריך עיון.

    For #6:
    הקדמה לפירוש המשניות להרמב"ם: כשירחק בעינינו דבר מדבריהם, נרגיל נפשנו בחוכמות עד שנבין ענייניהם בדבר ההוא, אם יוכלו להבין ליבותינו הדבר הגדול הזה. שהרי החכמים, אף על פי שהיה להם מן התאווה ללמוד, וטוב הרעיון והיגיעה, וחברת החסידים הנכבדים, והרחקת העולם בכל מה שיש בו, היו מיחסים החסרון לנפשם, כשהם מעריכים נפשותם לפי מה שקדם אותם. והוא מה שאמרו (עירובין נג א): "ליבם של ראשונים – כפתחו של אולם, ושל אחרונים – אפילו כמחט סדקית". וכל שכן אנחנו, שהחכמה נעדרה ממנו, וכאשר הודיענו הקב"ה: "ואבדה חכמת חכמיו ובינת נבוניו תסתתר" (ישעיהו פרק כט). יחד הכתוב כל אחד ממנו בארבעה דברים: בחולשת השכל, וחוזק התאווה, ועצלות בבקשה החכמה, והזריזות בבצע העולם – ארבעת שפטיו הרעים; ואיך לא נסמוך החסר לנפשותינו, כשנעריך אותה עליהם? ומפני אשר ידעו עליהם השלום בעניין זה, שכל דבריהם ברורים ונקיים ואין בהם סיגים, ציוו עליהם והזהירו שלא ילעג אדם עליהם. ואמרו (גיטין נז ב): "כל המלעיג על דברי חכמים נידון בצואה רותחת" (וכו'). ואין לך צואה רותחת גדולה מן הכסילות אשר השיאתו להלעיג. ועל כן לא תמצא לעולם מרחיק דבריהם, אלא איש מבקש תאווה, ונותן יתרון להנאות המורגשות, אשר לא האיר ליבו בדבר מן המאורים הבהירים.
    רבינו יונה משלי ג-ז "אל תהי חכם בעיניך": שיירא אדם בכל עת פן יטעה בשכלו ויקצר במחשבת תבונתו בעבודת השי"ת ... אף כי ראוי לו שיחשב מעוט חכמתו לעמת האיתנים שהיו בימים הראשונים.

  12. RDE: BTW, would you mind explaining to me the meaning of the title of the post "Theology vs Chazal"? What does Theology say and what do Chazal say?

    1. Theology are metarules such as any appearance of sin of the Avos have to be understood as only relative to their level but not that they actually sinned. An example is the Ramchal mentioned above in his discussion of Agadata. vs
      Chazal who meant what they said according to the literal meaning of the words sin. This is the view of the Leshem and apparently the Rishonim

    2. Daas Torah, I think that you are being disingenuous with your title. You know very well that, whatever your personal opinion, the great Acharonim who lie on both sides of this issue (and I think that there are more than 2 sides) all see themselves as accurately portraying the intent of Tanach AND Chazal. It is therefore Chutzpadik against the Ramchal, Rav Hutner and the Baalei Mussar to label their opinion as "theology" and the other opinion as "Chazal". The title, when introducing an argument between 2 sides, should not take sides in the argument.

      Is your mind already made up about how to present this issue? Are you you going to just say that whichever sources I cite "hold like the Baalei Mussar", as opposed to your OWN opinion, which is "Chazal"?

    3. Chaim I don't think you are playing with a full deck. Theology is not what Chazal do. Theological development basically started with Rav Saadiya Gaon to create a conceptually consistent system that could compete with Christian and Muslim theology. As I have pointed out, I have found no statement in Chazal - and no one else has either - that states what the Baalei Mussar claim regarding the Biblical figures or Chazal - either regarding their uniqueness or their relationship to sin. There are just isolated statements which don't seem consistent and are open to numerous different interpretations.

      So if you want to deal honestly with the subject - please produce sources from Chazal which unambigously supports your point. Or at least show me a source in the Rishonim, or kabbalah. If the only source for this point of view is with Baalei Mussar including the Ramchal then you have a problem insistenting that I am gerrymandering the material to support "my opinion".

    4. Daas Torah, what can I say? You have let me down. Great Mefarshim, Kabbalists, Acharonim disagree with how you perceive the Emes, so you portray them as being pitted against Chazal. How sad.

    5. Chaim just when I think we are getting someone you fade out of focus. I have stated that the Mussar Principle of sin is not expressed by Chazal Rishonim apparently many Rishonim and commentators. Your response is to say that many disagree with me. Please tell me who is disagreeing and what do they actually say.

      Similarly in your comment to Eddie you say what you claim the Ramchal said. It would be much more helpful if you tell us what his actual words were in Hebrew.

    6. I take "someone" to mean "somewhere".

      How do you think we are getting somewhere by telling me that I am not playing with a full deck (an insult understandable in light of your disdain for the Baalei Mussar)?

    7. "is not expressed by Chazal" = "versus Chazal"?!?!
      I honestly don;t know if this is an error in logic or something else.

  13. It could be that the words of the Chazon Ish were directed against the likes of Rav Dessler and Reb Isaac Sher. Briefly – R' I Sher in his essay – sefer ha'yashar – Be'reishit says that really, our distorted approach to tan'nach should be corrected in time as we become ba'al gema'rah and relearn ta'nach in the light of cha'zal ( and the appreciation of the greatness of the people of the bible ) . Unfortunately, today talmidei chachamim – ba'alei Ge'marah don't learn ta'nach with this understanding . Their understanding and perception remains on the level of what they learned be'beit ra'bam, the understanding of ben 5 la'mikrah and there is no hope that this distortion will ever be corrected. We are under an obligation to show that just as in halacha and ge'morrah there is no comparison with what one learned as a child to the depth of learning we experience with the 'eyes ' of an adult, so there is no comparison with the pe'shuto shel mikra understood by using the commentaries suitable to ba'alei mikra , to those whose understanding is based on cha'zal.
    In the introduction to his sefer , the words of his father-in-law Reb Nosson Tzvi Finkel are brought. He said that Reb Isaac Sher's words can be considered like one of those from the period of the Rishonim.
    As far as the dor shel mitzrayim – he says we should distinguish between Yotzei mitrayim , the 20 % who were considered as tzadikim and the others who cha'zal describe as re'shayim and therefore did not deserve to leave mitrayim. There was also a claim against those who were saved. In the case of 'molech' , there is a claim against the family for covering up or protecting the person who performed the molech ritual , so there was a claim against the 20% who as it were condoned the avodah zara of the 80% and thus called ' ovdei avoda zara.'
    The approach of R Isaac Sher and Rav Dessler are based on their understanding of Chazal and that Hashem judges tzadikim ke'chut ha's'ara . Based on their questions they have learning Ta'nach , I feel more comfortable with their approach - that people are also judged on their 'madreigah ' , that based on the Rambam – explanation of the mishnayos – end of brachot - עת לעשות לה פרו תורתך , that Hashem creates situations so people will sin in order to punish them. ( for sins and mistakes in thought )
    I am not a Talmid or learned from a talmid of R Isaac Sher , so what I write may not be the complete picture .

    1. Yes, you hit the nail right on the head. That's exactly what the intention of the Chazon Ish was. It was against those who held that Eisav looked like a rosh yeshiva and wore a shtreimel, and that his aveiros would have been mitzvos today. The Brisker Rov was also against this approach. If the Torah labels someone as evil, then that's what he was. (He still does have to be understood as being a billion times greater than you, re: the story with Menashe coming in a dream to one of the Amoraim (Rav Ashi?) Nothing to do with the current discussion at hand.

    2. Don't understand you, nat. If Esav was a billion times greater than me, he probably DID wear a Shtreimel - I know people who aren't a billion times greater than me and still wear one!

      When you say "greater", do you mean "made more positive בחירה choices", or do you mean "had greater G-d-given potential"?

    3. I will explain what I mean by "greater." Greater does not mean more righteous. Greater means greater in personality. Hitler, ym"s, was a great person. He was greatly evil. There are people who are evil, but are small people. They do not accomplish much. Esav was a very great person, although he was evil personified. My point in this, as referenced by the story with Menashe, is that we have to realize that we are very far from understanding the earlier personages, due to yeridas hadoros. But this recent matter is tangential. The main point is that we cannot understand the Avos and David Hamelech whatsoever, and although they were not free of sin, their sins were not our sins. So for Eddie to keep bringing cases of people from those times who have sinned, there is really no point in doing this. Because the Torah and Gemara and Rishonim said that they sinned. So this is no chiddush. What his problem is, is that he thinks that the Avos Hakedoshim and Moshe had the same personality, psyche, and emotions as he does, and that their sins are like his sins. This comes from a very low level of understanding of the text. He thinks that when it says that Moshe didn't believe in Hashem, it is like someone today not believing that Hashem exists. Now, keep in mind, this is after he spoke directly with Hashem, panim el panim. But someone with childish understanding cannot differentiate. He says--if it says that he sinned that he did not believe, it means that he had sfeikos about the existence of Hashem, just like I or my friends do. And so on and so on with all of the other sins. The truth is that we could think about it for a hundred years, and we will never completely understand Moshe Rabbeinu's chet, or any of the Avos's chatoim or questionable acts. And if you think that you do understand, and if you relate them to the acts of people nowadays, like Lichtenstein did, the Gemara says about you that you are a chamor. Why, because a chamor sees his owner and does not realize that he is a person with intelligence, etc. He just sees him as another animal in a different form. Exactly the same thing here.

    4. I agree with the points you are making. I would just add that, as per my Mashal with R' Moshe Feinstein זצ"ל, sometimes the fact that we know how RIGHTEOUS a person is (not "great" as you use the term) is itself an indicator that the person can be assumed to be above pettiness and great character flaws.

      Something else - the whole conversation on this thread is actually tangential to the point I made originally about Rabbi ML. The conversation here is about how to interpret statements of Tanach and Chazal which tell us that Tzadikim sinned. My criticism of RML was that he was inventing NEW sins and falsely portraying Yehuda in a horrible way (apart from distorting/ignoring a Possuk as I showed, something about which nobody has or could reply to me in his defense).

      Hence, the Machlokes about how literally to read the sins of the righteous, even if it were to be presented in an honest fashion rather than "Chazal vs. Baalei Mussar", is completely irrelevant to my original comments which engendered this whole hullabaloo.

    5. Chaim here is your original comment:

      "Let us begin with the Tamar episode. The cardinal sin in these happenings is not the sexual licentiousness of the parties involved, but the treatment of Tamar. Both Yehuda and his sons treat her as an object to be used (or abused) for their own benefit and pleasure, refusing to relate to her as a human being worthy of respect and recognition as such, whose needs, emotional and other, must be taken into account. Initially manifesting itself in the crude and boorish behavior of Er and Onan, it is true of their father as well."

      I view these words, as well as those in the subsequent paragraphs in that article, as nothing less than disgusting. For these sentiments to be thought, not to mention expressed, by any believing Jew is troubling. But a Rosh Yeshiva? It should be unthinkable! A community in which such remarks are not even considered controversial has a deep problem, and it pains my heart.

      Again, I am not claiming that this phenomenon is endemic. I have listened to thousands of hours of MO Rabbanim who are Torah-true. But the problem exists and nobody in that camp seems to be willing to address it.

      Nowhere do you say he is inventing sins, or even attempt to prove through a decent review of the various meforshim that Chazal did not agree with him(I would argue from the Ben Ish Hai I brought above that Chazal also felt this way regarding Yehuda's behavior).

      When asked to defend your statements your first response was:
      I expressed an opinion that in the MO world, there is an unaddressed problem of lack of כבוד חכמים, even among certainof their Rabbinic leaders. I picked 2 examples of statements/articles which I consider to be symptomatic of this non-Torah approach, and commented that the fact that there has been zero objection in the MO world to these statements indicates that the underlying attitude is more prevalent than one would hope.

      Then your second response:
      To me this is definitely related to, if not a consequence of, that community's extensive efforts to paint the concept of "Daas Torah" as an invention of the Chazon Ish. Even if the truth about this concept is far more nuanced and subtle than the typical Chareidi position, the Rabbis who have managed to convince their Talmidim that the concept does not exist AT ALL have produced a generation who regard great, outstanding, Torah scholars as "experts in Torah" but whose intuition and advice is not fundamentally different than that of the layman.

      Then your third response:
      Let's try not to get personal. MO is a mindset, not an ethnic division. I claim that many of the adherents of this mindset countenance sharp, unwarranted and disrespectful criticism of great Torah leaders and Tzadikim. This is most definitely NOT the "traditional" Jewish approach.
      Of course there are numerous statements of Chazal which level criticism against Tzadikim in Tanach. Never - not in targum, Talmud or Kabbala -is it done with the disrespect that is rampant today among some circles.
      You can disagree with me all you want. As I've said already, the complete lack of negative response to the types of articles I cited show that there is unfortunately wide tolerance for and acceptance of that way of speaking about Tzadikim.

      So really you were laying an objection against MO hashkafa, and dressing it up in the piety of defending the Tzadikim. Unfortunately, as has been shown through numerous sources, you don't have Chazal on your side.

      You have been asked repeatedly, both by other commentors and the blog owner, to provide some sort of sourcing for your statements, and so far you haven't been able to provide one. Nor have you been willing to deal with those that have been provided for you, even when in English.

    6. your comments illustrate the critcial important in identifying what exactly is diminishing through the generations. It clearly is not Torah learning nor is it spirituality.

      The expression that the greater a person the greater his yetzer - doesn't actually say his yetzer harah. Yetzer is his life force. Question is does that make their psychology different than normal people?

    7. Ch@im : "have produced a generation who regard great, outstanding, Torah scholars as "experts in Torah" but whose intuition and advice is not fundamentally different than that of the layman."

      Sorry, I couldn't resist this one.

      The advice and intuition of those who nominate themselves as having this magical ingredient of DaasTorah - which did precede the CI ztl, was sometimes not even as good as that of the layman. I repeat - the german layman, often reform, knew when to bolt and left the evil of Europe. Einstein, who is maligned by Hareidim as being not as smart as they are, managed to save his life, whilst the leaders with the alleged daasTorah thought their daas was so great it could save them, and didnt.
      One leader of Aguda mocked the secularists for having acted with "Ruach kodesh" in saving themselves. However, Hashem created man, and even animals (eg haNotein Sechvi binah l'havchin..) with some basic survival instincts.
      As for advice, we are often told of how great advice can be received from rabbis, but all the advice I ever sought was advice on how to destroy my own life and that of others.

    8. Eddie:

      Sorry, I've been away, so to speak, and have less time on my hands now (are you happy?)

      I never said that Tzadikim's advice in worldly matters - e.g. whether place A is safer than place B - is more authoritative than that of the layman. The Tanya (Igeres HaKodesh 22) argues against this view. I was referring to advice in spiritual matters. (Obviously saving yourself is a spiritual matter, as I'm sure you'll object. But when the spiritual guide bases himself on faulty information, the decision he makes will necessarily be faulted. Much like a Rabbi giving a Psak for fasting (or not) on Yom Kippur is only as good as the accuracy of the doctor he speaks to first. As to why Hashem would allow a Tzadik to be duped by lack of knowledge of the facts - that is another matter.)

    9. Chaim - that is a reasonable answer - and we are , B'H in agreement - a good reason to be happy!

  14. Ramban apparently violates the principle of not ascribe actual sin to tzadikim - unless Chazal explicitly say so

    Ramban (Bereishis 12:10) states that Avrahom sinned by going to Egypt and exposing his wife to possible sin. "You should know that Avraham Avinu unintentionally commiited a great sin by putting his wife in a compromising situation because he was afraid of being killed. He should have trusted that G-d would save him and his wife as well as his belongings…Going to Egypt because of the famine was also a sin because G-d would have saved him from death. Because of this act it was decreed on his descendants to be exiled in Egypt under the control of Pharoh…" The Ramban's assertion has been questioned and thoroughly refuted…There are other commentaries that assert that the exile in Egypt was the result of the sin of the brothers selling Yosef. They furthermore claim that Yosef also sinned…These types of comments are like a picture expertly drawn on a wall so that it looks life like when seen from a distance. However when you examine it closely it is obvious lifeless…These commentators are self glorifying in trying to find the cause for the exile in Egypt other than what Chazal have said…Chazal… (Nedraim 32a) provide three views of what caused the exile in Egypt. Rabbi Abahu says it was because he drafted talmidei chachomim into his army. Shmuel said because he acted improperly why asking G-d how he knew he would have descendants. Rabbi Yochanon said it was because he interfered with accepting converts….The first two indicate that Avraham was lacking complete faith. The third opinion is that he was not motivated enough in teaching faith to the rest of mankind. According to all three the exile in Egypt was necessary to correct the problem…

    Of interest the Maharal criticizes the Ramban for inferring that Avraham had sinned without a specific mention by Chazal.

    1. Of interest the Maharal criticizes the Ramban for inferring that Avraham had sinned without a specific mention by Chazal.

      Sorry but i have to disagree with you here. The Maharal doesn't argue that they comitted these sins. His problem is that they are ascribing the exile in Egypt to these sins. Speficially he states:

      These commentators are self glorifying in trying to find the cause for the exile in Egypt other than what Chazal have said…
      I will have to check sources, but I am fairly certain that the sins that he mentions are brought by Chazal. The Maharal on the other hand is taking issue with the Ramban(and other Rishonim) for thinking that they know better than Chazal what caused the exile in Egypt.

    2. DT:

      Good point from the Ramabn.

    3. DT:

      In Breishis Rabba (Chap. 40), Avraham's going down to Egypt is seen as a precursor (cause?) of Klal Yisrael later going down there, a corollary of the מעשה אבות סימן לבנים principle which the Ramban adopted and made famous in his commentary. It has therefore been suggested (and I think that it is logical) that the Ramban saw in that Medrash a Tannaic source for viewing Avraham going to Egypt as a sin.

      By the way, I just saw this:

      I was completely unaware of what is brought there in the last footnote.

  15. מהר"ל (גבורות השם - פרק ט עמוד נ"ב) אחר שכבר בארנו מענין המראה הזה הגדול והנורא, יש לך להתבונן בדבר הזה שאמר הכתוב (בראשית ט"ו) ידוע תדע כי גר יהיה זרעך ועבדום וענו אותם, על מה חרי האף הגדול הזה שהיה אומר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא כך. והנה הרמב"ן ז"ל נתן טעם לדבר, מפני שהיה אברהם מביא את שרה בנסיון גדול שאמר אחותי היא ולקחה פרעה על ידי זה, בשביל זה הביא הקדוש ברוך הוא את זרעו במצרים גם כן. וכמו שהביא על פרעה נגעים גדולים כך הביא הקדוש ברוך הוא על מצרים נגעים גדולים, וכמו ששלח פרעה את אברהם במתנות רבות כך יצאו ישראל ברכוש גדול, אלו הן דברי הרמב"ן ז"ל:
    וכבר הקשו עליו קושיות עד שנעקר פירושו מכל וכל, שהרי אחר שנגזר הגלות עליו חזר אברהם כשהלך לגרר ואמר אחותי היא, ואיך יתכן זה שאחר שחטא וענש אותו עונש גדול יחזור לחטא, חלילה לומר כך. ועוד יצחק שאמר גם כן אחותי היא למה עשה זה אחר שאברהם נענש איך יחטא הוא עוד. ויש אחרים מן האחרונים שהוציאו מלבם עוד דבר אחר, שאמרו שחטא הגלות היה בחטא השבטים במכירת יוסף, ואף יוסף חטא מפני שעל ידו היתה המכירה, שיוסף גרם זה שאם לא הביא דבה אל אביו לא אירע זה, ומפני שעל ידי צאן היתה המכירה כדכתיב (שם ל"ב) וילכו לרעות צאן אביהם בשכם ולפיכך על ידי צאן ירדו למצרים כי אין מרעה לצאן אשר לעבדיך וגו', אלו דברים אשר אמרו קצת מן אחרונים. ודברים אלו הם דומים לצורה המצוירת על הכותל, אשר המצייר מיפה אותה ובשרד יתאר אותה, עד שכאשר יראה הרואה מרחוק יאמר שיש בה רוח חיים, וכשקרב אליה הנה הוא דבר צבוע, וכל רוח אין בו כך הם אלו הפירושים. כי כאשר האדם ידקדק בזה לומר שישראל באו בגלות בשביל מכירת יוסף, ימצא שזה הפך משמעות הכתוב, שהקדוש ברוך הוא אמר לו לאברהם קודם לידת השבטים ידוע תדע כי גר יהיה זרעך ועבדום וענו אותם ארבע מאות שנה, וכל מי שיש לו עינים לראות יראה, כי סבת המכירה כדי שיבא לירידת מצרים, שכן דרשו במקומות הרבה וישלחהו מעמק חברון מעצה עמוקה של צדיק הקבור בחברון שנאמר לו כי גר יהיה זרעך, והנה היה השעבוד של מצרים סבה למכירה לא שתהא המכירה סבה לשיעבוד. והתפארו שמצאו סבה בענין הגלות יותר ממה שנאמר בכל דברי רבותינו ז"ל אשר נביא את דברי חכמתם אח"כ....
    ועתה אשוב אל דברי חכמים הנאהבים והנעימים הברורים המיוסדים על אדני החכמה. בפרק ארבע נדרים (נדרים ל"ב ע"א) אמר ר' אבהו מפני מה נענש אברהם אבינו ונשתעבדו בניו מאתים ועשר שנים מפני שעשה אנגריא בת"ח שנאמר וירק חניכיו ילידי ביתו. ושמואל אמר מפני שהפריז על מדותיו של הקדוש ברוך הוא שאמר במה אדע. ור' יוחנן אמר שהפריז על מדותיו של הקדוש ברוך הוא מלבוא גרים תחת כנפי שכינה שנאמר תן לי הנפש והרכוש קח לך. הרי ג' דעות בענין זה וכולם תלו הדבר בחטא, ודוקא בחטא אברהם. מפני כי כבר אמרנו לך כי מן השורש והעיקר נמשך הכל, שאם נמצא חסרון בשורש ימשך החסרון גם כן אל הנמשכים ממנו. לפיכך דעתם ז"ל גם כן כי במראה הזה הראה הקדוש ברוך הוא לאברהם הכל כי הוא היה שורש הכל, ולכן נרמז בזה כל הגליות לא גלות מצרים בלבד אלא אף שיעבוד כל המלכיות, כמו שדרשו ז"ל (בראשית רבה פ' מ"ד) וגם לרבות שיעבוד שאר מלכיות. והדין עמהם כמו שהראה הקדוש ברוך הוא לאברהם שיעבוד מצרים כך הראה לו שיעבוד כל המלכיות, כי הכל הוא נמשך מן השורש והראה לו כל אשר ימשך לזרעו. לכך דעתם ז"ל גם כן שהיה חטא נמצא באברהם שהוא השורש ובשביל כך נמצא העונש בזרעו. ומה שהקשה כי איך איפשר שיהיה אברהם נענש, והרי באברהם נאמר (שם) בשיבה טובה תקבר ולא תראה כל אלה, ואיך נאמר שהחוטא ימות בשיבה טובה וישאר החטא לבניו שלא חטאו. קושיא זאת הקשה המפרש הנזכר על דברי חכמים ולא ידע כי בנפשו דבר. כי לפירושו יקשה זה, כי נתן טעם מפני שחטאו בני יעקב במכירת אחיהם וראוי לומר כפא דחט נגרא נשרף חרדלא (פסחים כ"ח ע"א), והרי לא היו השבטים חיים:

    1. Maharal continued
      ותוכל לומר שדעת רבותינו ז"ל, כי השם יתברך הביא את זרע אברהם בגלות, מפני שלא היה אברהם מתחזק כל כך באמונה, לכך הביא השם יתברך זרעו בגלות כדי שיקנו האמונה, וידעו כח מעשיו שהוא עושה לאוהביו וגבורותיו אשר עושה לאויביו, כמו שעשה למצרים מן מכות הגדולות והנוראות, והטובה שעשה לאוהביו, וכמו שמשמע מן הכתוב שכל אשר היה עושה הוא יתברך שידעו שמו וגבורתו תמיד. ולפיכך סובר ר' אבהו שנראה באברהם שלא היה בוטח בה' לגמרי, שהרי עשה אנגריא בת"ח ולקחם למלחמה מיראתו, ואלו לקח הראוי למלחמה אין זה חטא שאין סומכין על הנס, אבל לקח ת"ח מורה שהיה ירא, והיה לו לבטוח בו יתברך ולא ליקח למלחמה אשר אין ראוי ליקח, ולפיכך נשתעבדו בניו ארבע מאות שנה שיראו גבורותיו אשר עשה ובזה יקנו אמונה שלימה. ושמואל סובר דאין לומר שהיה אברהם ח"ו אינו בוטח בו יתברך שהוא מציל את אוהביו שזה רחוק לומר, אבל החטא שאמר במה אדע ואין זה מיעוט בטחון כל כך כי דבר זה לתת לו הארץ שהיא מתנה שמא לא יזכה, וכמו שנתבאר למעלה בפרק שלפני זה, ולפיכך שאל אותו, אבל בטחון להציל את אוהביו אין ספק שהיה בוטח, ולפיכך היה זרעו בגלות ארבע מאות שנה וקנו האמונה שלימה כדכתיב ויאמינו בה' וגו'. ור' יוחנן סובר דגם זה בראש המאמינים שהוא אברהם ששאל אות לא יתכן לומר, רק שלא הכניס גרים תחת כנפי שכינה, וזה היה כבוד להשם יתברך שגרים באים להתגייר ולהאמין בו יתברך והוא לא עשה, וזהו כמי שמתעצל שיקנו הבריות אמונה בו יתברך ולא הקפיד על האמונה בו, והשם יתברך רוצה שיהיה שמו נודע בכל העולם ויאמינו בו ולפיכך נשתעבדו בניו ד' מאות שנה, ואח"כ יצאו בנסים ונפלאות עד שגרים הרבה באים להתגייר ולהאמין בו כדכתיב (שמות י"ב) וישמע יתרו וגו', וכן ברחב הזונה ועל זה נאמר (שיר השירים א') שמן תורק שמך על כן עלמות אהבוך. הרי שלשה דברים אלו כלם הם מגיעים אל האמונה, לדעת ר' אבהו שעשה אנגריא בת"ח וזה יורה על אמונה בלתי שלימה שאין השם יתברך מציל אוהביו, ולדעת שמואל היה החטא ג"כ באמונה, רק שאין כל כך גדול לומר שלא יציל אוהביו, רק החטא באמונה בנתינת הארץ ומתנה גדולה כזאת היה מסופק בה. ודעת ר' יוחנן גם כן החטא באמונה אלא שאין לומר שיהיה ח"ו לאברהם חטא באמונה שלא היה מאמין, אבל החטא שלא היה מתחזק וזריז באמונת השם יתברך להביא בריות תחת כנפי השכינה שיאמינו בו. וזה חסרון באמונה במה שאינו מתחזק באמונה כמו שראוי אבל מאמין היה. כך יש לפרש דעת חכמים. ועתה לא יקשה לך כי כ"כ שקול החטא זה של אברהם להביא עונש גדול על זרע אברהם. כי בודאי מצד ועתה אשוב אל דברי חכמים הנאהבים והנעימים הברורים המיוסדים על אדני החכמה. בפרק ארבע נדרים (נדרים ל"ב ע"א) עצמו ראוי שיהיה מתפרסם מציאות השם יתברך בעולם, כי מה היה נחשב העולם אם לא נודע ונתפרסם מציאותו יתברך בעולם, רק שצריך חטא מה להוציא דבר אל הפעל, דסוף סוף היה שיעבוד וצרה, ואין זה בלא חטא, ודבר כזה אין צריך רק חטא מעט וקטן להכריע, ודבר זה מבואר מאוד למי שיבין:

  16. It's not just Achronim that the Ramban seems to contradict - it's the Gemara that by צדיקים there's a חיוב to be דן לכף זכות even where the facts are נוטה לחוב.

    i think it's a שטארקע קושיא.

    A תירוץ to resolve this בדוחק: The רבינו יונה משלי עה"פ כי ה' יהי' בכסלך ושמר רגלך מלכד (רבינו יונה, משלי ג-כ"ו) writes that although צדיקים were חושש שמא יגרום החטא, still
    ודע, כי התוחלת האצלה מן הבטחון הזה יחזק התוחלת עד כי כאשר תקרב הצרה ויירא מעוונותיו לא יהי' שקול הפחד עם התקוה אך תחזק התקוה ממנו, כי חסדי ה' יתברך יתֵרִים על כל עוון ומרחם על כל הנכנע ומבקש רחמיו. (רבינו יונה, משלי ג-כ"ו)
    Perhaps the Ramabm held that he HAD NO CHOICE but to be מחייב Avrohom Avenu, because the two things that he did 1) hiding Sarah and resorting to seemingly not speaking totally truthfully about the realtionship, 2) Leaving E"Y בימי הרעב although Hashem specifically told him to go to E"Y - means that לפי רוב מדריגתו he felt the פחד stronger than the תקוה. THIS is considered a חטא, לפי גודל מדריגותיו של א"א.

    i would never say something like this myself, but the Ramabn dos indeed so there was a חטא, and we should be משתדל to understand why the Ramban isn't מלמד זכות.

    So I'm thinking, that לפי שיטת הרמבן it was MORE than נוטה לחוב - as the facts of the story show במפורש certain things - and ממילא he had no choice - since Torah always looks for EMES.

  17. R' Isaac Sher says that the commentaries written for the ba'alei mikrah don't have to take into account chazal. Lots of questions asked on Avraham including accepting money and becoming rich. In a sentence R' I Sher explains that the purpose of Avraham in the world was to bring people close to God via chesed. Because of the drought , eretz ca'na'an was no longer a suitable place for him to pursue his mission , despite he himself being able to survive there. Calling Sara his sister was not an absolute lie - she was his sister via family etc , but also to protect people from the thought of aviera - eishet ish. People were also more inclined to participate in the chesed projects because of Sara's attractive personality and she being his sister - they tried to impress Avraham rather than having him killed which surely would not serve his mission to bring people close to Hashem through chesed.

    1. This sounds like Rav Dessler's assertion that when the Rishonim deviate from what Chazal state it is basically kiruv Torah for those who can't accept what Chazal say. It is permitted as long as it doesn't go against halacha.

      This is definitely not agreed to everybody. See the Ohr Hachaim who explains that he has the right to deviate with Chazal's interpretation because his understanding is also from Sinai.

    2. Shalom DT - what a wonderful post!

      Firstly, Or HaChaim is more authoritative than R' Dessler. But it is also very interesting regarding the controversial interpretation I made of the Ramchal, where i was asserting that it is possible to deviate from Chazal on logical grounds. SO my question here is HOW exactly is Ohr Hachaim's understanding from Sinai? Is it via mesora, kabbalah, "active intellect" [that is the idea of Rambam in his esoteric methods]. is this access to Sinai available to all who toil in Torah? And is the Sinai-ness of a statement judged by the statement or by who is saying it?

  18. Reb Daniel, you quoted the Leshem

    “The critical point is that every Jew is obligated to believe with perfect faith that all which is found in the words of our Talmudic Sages - both in halacha, Talmudic agada and medrashim - are in their entirety the words of the living G d. That is because everything that they say is with ruach hakodesh (Sanhedrin 48:). “

    Could you kindly explain how you understand this quote. Does he mean to say that every statement in the Gemorrah cannot be in error because itwas made with ruach hakodesh and hence every statement is factually correct?

    1. Ruach hakodesh - even prophesy does not have to produce 100% true results. The Leshem's question is why do Chazal make such negative statements about Yosef - when there doesn't seem to be any basis in the Torah verses for such a picture. He answers they were not just interpreting the verse but had ruach hakodesh which enabled them to know know about things that we can not derive from the verses.

      There is a similar statement of Rav Moshe Feinstein that Chazal have the ability to talk about reality which is hidden from normal human senses.

      In sum, he is explaining that they have sources of information that are denied to us. This doesn't mean that everything they say factually correct but that on some level it is true and it is not just something they made up.

    2. Your last paragraph smacks of something which you would mock had it been written by Katche-lab etc. - just saying.

    3. Rambam writes in his Intro to Helek that there are several classes of people who interpret sayings of Chazal, in particular the aggadot. One major class is those who take it all literally; another poke fun and look for ways of disproving it. the 3rd class, which he alludes to his own view, and his only, are those who delve deeper to bring out a philosophical or sophisticated meaning. I think these views are also apparent over here.

  19. RDE, I think that you missed posting a couple of my comments, especially an important one to RMT.

    1. Nat I didn't miss anything. For a person of your intelligence, sensitivity and Torah learning - you need to be more careful in editing your comments. You have raised some important points which are valuable contributions to the discussion - but they need to be focused exclusively on the topic - not what you think of other people's intelligence, scholarship or frumkeit. Please refine your comments and they will be posted.

    2. Sorry. All recent comments, along with the occasional accompanying literary vitriol, were what I deemed necessary to get my point across. If you wish not to post then, well, it is your blog

    3. True it is my blog - but at the same time I try to post comments that will inform others. A poke in the eye is not helpful.

  20. I have a question for those who say the earlier generations did not sin. Was it possible for them to sin? And how about the possibility - not actual - that Chazal could err in a matter of halacha?

    If anyone argues that it is not possible for Chazal to err in haalcha, then they are going against the Torah itself, as well as the Talmud. Keyword: Horayot.

  21. R' DE,
    I was wondering if you saw what I think is R' Isaac Sher's response to the Chazon Ish. Also the cheit ha'eigel was more about the need for an intermediary to replace Moshe, or a small minority actually involved in A'Z' and others at fault for standing by while this was happening. R' Isaac Sher basers himself on Chazal. When R'I Sher says we must understand that the AZ that is ascribed to am yisrael is not the same as the AZ of the goyim , he is not watering down the sin , but showing how far and what high standards are demanded by Hashem. R I Sher shows using Chazal that merely be subservient to those who worship AZ is as if you worship AZ, creating pacts and treaties with neighboring states for security purposes is considered as putting trust in AZ ,Putting effort into making a living and being lazy when it comes to dovening , is also considered by the medrash as AZ. Defining AZ in the narrow sense is just limiting Torah

    1. Allan - except they had just been told Not to make a graven image. And that Hashem wanted to wipe out all of Israel and start over with Moshe only.

    2. I believe you are expressing the view of the Kuzari. I haven't found any statement in Chazal that supports it. This again seems to be an example of Rav Dessler's kiruv Torah of the Rishonim for people who can't accept the views of Chazal.

    3. The point I am making is that the rest of the nation excluding the 3000 that actually served AZ were guiltyof AZ because they did not protest , or stop the celebrations etc This was serious enough to warrant starting a new nation from Moshe. The examples from Yehoshuah and Shoftim - the list of AZ that they worshiped as explained by R I Sher above in my post are based on Chazal. The conclusions of R I Sher are not kiruv Torah for people who cannot accept the views of Chazal , but the view of someone who learns Ta'anach like a suguya with all its depth.

  22. RDE,
    The Ramban proves from chazal the kuazari's basic premise, that Bnei Yisroel's original intent was not for AZ. They just wanted "an intermediary to replace Moshe" (as allan put it). This is the position by many of the rishonim (ibn ezra,tosfos,arbaranel,ralbag).

    The Ibn Ezra begins by stating that it is unfathomable to him the Jews could sin with AZ. And certainly it is unfathomable how Aharon could violate a "yahareig va' yaavor".

    There are different version as to what exactly was their sin. The Kuzari says it was that they made a image. As eddie pointed this is an issur, regardless of AZ. (There is a discussion whether the Jews knew this prohibition yet. Moshe may not have given over the parshas of mizbeach adama). The Kuzari does emphasize that while it is still an aveira the nature of the aveira is much easier understood than AZ. He also emphasizes that it was only 3000 Jews.

    The Ibn Ezra explains that it turned to AZ afterwards, but it was the Eriev Rav's bad influence, and only 3000 committed AZ as allen explained. Regarding the question as to how all the Jews could be punished, the ibn ezra answers: "kol yisroel areivim".

    The Ramban makes no mention of erev rav, but does follow down the ibn ezra's general path that while the original intent was not for AZ, things took a bad turn after the egel was created. (The Ramban points out that chazal in Yuma are explicit that AZ was involved). based on chazal, he broadens the AZ violators to more than 3000, because there were those that committed with action and those that committed with thoughts.

    Anyway, all their words are free to read by all. Best to look at arbarbanel, as he so neatly brings down all approaches together.

    It is interesting to quote the kuzari's opening remarks on the topic: He says the fact that the Torah describes the sins of the Jews, it is a testimony to their greatness. point to ponder.

    1. This is the pasuk from Shemot 32:
      ח סָרוּ מַהֵר, מִן-הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִם--עָשׂוּ לָהֶם, עֵגֶל מַסֵּכָה; וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ-לוֹ, וַיִּזְבְּחוּ-לוֹ, וַיֹּאמְרוּ, אֵלֶּה אֱלֹהֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱלוּךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם. 8 they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed unto it, and said: This is thy god, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

      I believe it is Ramban who argues that the calf was a replacement for Moshe.
      Nevertheless, they have worshiped it.

      There is a logical problem for those who claim that the Am did not get involved, and it was only 3000. G-d wanted to wipe out the whole people, and Moses intervenes. But G-d says as follows:
      "33 And the L-O-RD said unto Moses: 'Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book. "
      This seems to suggest that the original decree to wipe out the whole people was based on them all sinning.

    2. RDE,
      The Ramban proves from chazal the kuazari's basic premise, that Bnei Yisroel's original intent was not for AZ. They just wanted "an intermediary to replace Moshe" (as allan put it). This is the position by many of the rishonim (ibn ezra,tosfos,arbaranel,ralbag).

      Could you please cite the text where Ramban shows that the Kuzari's view is that of Chazal?

    3. Eddie,
      Thanks for your reply! I will address your issues:
      1. Can you clarify why you quoted that pasuk,
      2. You wrote:"I believe it is Ramban who argues that the calf was a replacement for Moshe. Nevertheless, they have worshiped it. "
      Correct! As I mentioned above, The Ramban's position is that it started as good intent but turned sour once it was created, and then the AZ started. However, even according to the Ramban it was only 3000 people that committed AZ in actions. These 3000 people actually worshiped the egel. The korbonos were intended for the egel. The remainder of "sinners" worshiped Hashem. The korbaonos they brought were for Hashem. The Ramban proves this from the wording i the chumash. Their sin was in thought, They had bad thoughts that constitutes what chazal call מקצץ בנטיעות. Unfortunately, the Ramban does not give us a proper clue as to what this term really means. The Ramban explains this is the meaning of כי שחת עמך, which was the sin of bad thoughts. This was the majority of the people.
      3. You wrote:"There is a logical problem for those who claim that the Am did not get involved, and it was only 3000. G-d wanted to wipe out the whole people, and Moses intervenes." This is a very strong argument against Ibn Ezra/Kuuzari. Indeed the Ramban writes: "ולולי זה לא היה הכעס בכלם לכלותם". The Ramban could not believe that if only 3000 sinned, Hashem would wipe out all the Jews. Precisely your argument! Excellent. Though, as stated above, the people that sinned with real AZ were still a few as mentioned above. The AZ sinners were wiped out, for real.They all died immediately. Some killed, some died in plague. The "survivors" were the people that did not sin with AZ, but with מקצץ בנטיעות.
      Apparently, your question did not bother the Ibn Ezra. The Ibn Eztra/Kuazri, as explained above hold that only 3000 sinned. The Ibn Ezra also emphasizes the fact that the sin was caused by the erev rav. He ties this into the pasukim. Regarding the question how Hashem can punish many for the sin of a few, the Ibn Ezra subtly addresses it by making a reference to the principle of "Kol Yisroel Areivim". He quotes the pasuk from Yehsoshua, where Hashem says Bnei Yisroel sinned, even thought it was only Achan. The Ibn Ezra is very interesting because he writes that what motivates his general approach is "Pshat". He says, it is not "derech hapshat" to assume that Bnei Yisroel would desire to do AZ, and that Aharon would concede.

      You asked: "Could you please cite the text where Ramban shows that the Kuzari's view is that of Chazal?"
      The Kuzari's position is that the intent to build the egel was not for AZ. The Ramban states this is Chazal's intent as well. Below are some quotes:
      אבל הענין כמו שאמרתי שלא בקשו העגל להיות לאל ממית ומחיה וקבלו עבודת
      אלהותו עליהם אבל ירצו שיהיה להם במקום משה מורה דרכם
      וזה מאמר החכמים [סנהדרין סג] מלמד שאוו לאלהות הרבה כי הם לא ידעו במה
      יבחרו ואיזה הטוב להם
      ורבותינו למדו אותנו הענין הזה והם שגלו סודו

      I hope those quotes are helpful to you. It is best to read the Ramban/Ibn Ezra/Kuzari all inside from begin to end. When you read just excerpts, you don't get the flow and the big picture. The Ibn Ezra, can be found in his ארוך commentary.

    4. Thank you Clarity. I was actually studying this episode a week ago, but I sometimes just read the Psukim, and then see what the meforshim say (of course it is an un- but not non-orthodox approach).

    5. @Clarity the quote you gave from the Ramban does not show that Chazal agreed with his theory that the calf was merely a substitute for Moshe. In fact it is clear that the Ramban understanding is not based on Chazal. nor does it fit the language of the Torah.

      Chavell's translation
      It is our Rabbis who have taught us this interpretation, and it is they who have revealed the secret thereof. Thus they have said: 276 " 'Ra 'oh ra'ithi' (I have surely seen) the affliction of My people. 277 Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to Moses: 'Moses, you see them in one appearance, and I see them in two appearances.V" You see them coming to Sinai and accepting My Torah, and I see them contemplating Me and how I came forth in My 'travelling coach' to give them the Torah, as it is said, The chariots of G-d are myriads, even thousands upon thousands, 279 and they will unhitch one of My tatromulin,2!lO of which it is written, and the face of an ox on the left side, 272 and bring Me to anger with it." Tatromulin means "four mules," for tetra in Greek means "four," just as the Rabbis have said, 281 l "If a person vo ed, 'I will be a Nazir] tetragon,' he becomes [a Nazir for a period of] four times;" mulin means "mules," just as in the expression, "The mula'oth (mules) of Rabbi's house282 [used to go out with their bits on the Sabbath]." The word tatromulin is thus used as a symbol of the four chayoth (living creatures) who carried the Divine Chariot. 283 And in Vayikra Rabbah [10:3] [we find the Midrash stating] that Aaron said, "Since I am building the altar, I will build it to the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is said, and Aaron made a proclamation, and said, 'Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Eternal.' 274 It is not written here, 'Tomorrow shall be a feast to the calf,' but to the Eternal."

      (276) Ramban is quoting here a composite of Midrashirn in Shemoth Rabbah - 3:2, 42:5, 43:8. (277) Exodus 3:7. (278) Hence the double expression: Ra'oh ra'ithi, translated "I have surely seen." (279) Psalms 68:18. This whole psalm is interpreted in Midrash Tehilim with reference to the Revelation on Sinai. (280) This is a Greek word [as Ramban will explain further on] which denotes "four mules." Here it is used in reference to the four chayoth (living creatures) in the Divine Chariot as described by Ezekiel (Chapter 1), which, as stated in Psalms quoted above, were also seen at the Revelation on Sinai. The sense here is thus that "they will unhitch one of the four chayoth (creatures) in My Chari t, and worship it." (nl) Nazir 8 b

  23. See how slow the action is when you refuse to post my colorful yet cogent comments. . .

  24. In what way did G-d "force" them to sin? ( Golden calf, David and Bathsheva)?
    It is far cry from the concept of free will, and that socioeconomic or even metaphysical factors have no place or challenge to our freewill.
    Furthermore, if we take this statement at face value, then why should we make any effort at all to control our taavos, when it is all determined anyway, and we will face the music whatever we do?

  25. There does seem to be a systematic approach to dealing with sins of our ancestors - it may include but not be limited to :

    Respect for our ancestors as we are their children

    To be dan b kaf zchut, even now in case their souls, incarnations, or we their progeny still need it ( G_d is merciful for 1000 generations)

    Also to drive away the mekatreg from us or our loved ones by not harshly judging others.

    Simple cognitive dissonance

    To create a mindset where eg the rabbis themselves who wrote these commentaries are not judged harshly by others.

  26. There are views that man must have free will - Rambam
    There are views that man has no free will - Izbitz

  27. I read that the Izhbitzer was popularised by Shlomo carlebach.
    For those who say everything is predetermined, my answer would be a punch in the face. Sorry, but that's also predetermined.

  28. It's a bit like saying there are views that Moshiach will come - Rambam
    There are views that there is no Moshiach for Israel - R' Hillel


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