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Erubin 21b

Discussion in 'Judaism DIR' started by IndigoChild5559, Sep 11, 2019.

  1. IndigoChild5559

    IndigoChild5559 Loving God and my neighbor as myself.

    Aug 7, 2018
    Erubin 21b
    My son be careful to fulfill the words of the Sages even more than the words of the Torah. For the words of the Torah include positive and negative commandments, and even with regard to the negative commandments, the violation of many of them is only by lashes, Whereas with respect to the words of the Sages, anyone who violates the words of the sages is liable to receive the death penalty.

    I realize this addresses a very practical matter -- hey, when the rubber meets the road, it's better to avoid capital punishment than corporal punishment. Ideally, though, you avoid both.

    However, it seems to imply that the words of the Sages are more important than the words of the Torah, and I am troubled by this. Tell me I'm wrong.
  2. rosends

    rosends Well-Known Member

    Nov 14, 2014
    First, you should understand that the words of the chachamim are considered a continuation of the words of the written Torah, not an addition which would be of lesser importance. As Rashi writes, באלו שבעל פה שגם הם עיקר they are also part of the essential content. Also, if one were to ignore the words of the sages, one be insulting the content, yes, but also the sage (another level of sin). We cannot get used to diminishing laws based on our personal assessment so the punishment is heightened so that we take these words seriously. It isn't about "more important" but about our reaction to them not being lesser.
  3. Tumah

    Tumah Veteran Member

    Dec 17, 2013
    Mega-Super-Ultra-Orthodox Judaism
    Originally this was a much larger post, but I didn't want to put you to sleep.

    The decrees of the Sages are almost exclusively to protect the Torah (or us from transgressing the Torah). There's 7 positive Rabbinic enactments and hundreds if not thousands of Rabbinic prohibitions all centered around preventing someone from transgressing Torah Law either mindlessly or out of ignorance.

    So the idea is that the strength of a fence is in it's strength to prevent passage. The the fence doesn't exist for itself, but for the thing it's protecting. Let's say you have a nice flower garden that you don't want people to trample. So you string up a barbed wire fence and choose between one of two signs, "Don't step in my garden because you might ruin my flowers" and "Don't step in my garden because this barbed fence is going to rip your flesh apart before your dirty foot gets close to my beautiful petunias". Nobody will argue that if you choose the second sign, it means that your fence is more important than your garden.

    What the passage is saying is that when it comes to transgressing the Torah, you might step on a flower, you might prick yourself on a rose thorn, maybe there's some poison ivy in there that you might accidentally touch. But be careful of that fence because you're definitely going to mess yourself up just getting into that garden.