(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Torah Forum (c) Project Genesis

Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 21:40:33 -0400
From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel)
Subject: Re: People who never sinned

Bernard Laufer and Yehuda/Rebecca Poch (TFv4N18) discuss the classical
Gmarrah that 4 did not sin and question whether that is possible.

First: <  <  Only God is perfect so man must sin>  >   is an incorrect argument.
Mans imperfection means he cannot solve all problems..he cannot cure all
illnesses or give money to all poor. It doesn't mean he must sin.

Second: Let us ask a simpler question: Can man avoid giving a sin offering?
Certainly! All (s)he has to do is abstain from I think 36 specific gross
sins (like accidentally commiting adultery or incense or eating on Yom Kippur)

Third: If a person memorizes the major commandments can he avoid Biblical
sins like stealing, murder, slander etc.  Again certainly. Indeed moral law
would have no meaning if man could not implement it.

Fourth: What is left: Suppose a man e.g. forgets to say Mashiv HaRuAch
OOMoRiD HaGaSHeM..has he sinned? Well I once heard from the Rav, Joseph
Baer Soloveitchick that a rabbinical commandment that was inadvertently
transgressed is not a sin.

So there we have it: If you really abstain from the Gross sins AND also
abstain from the Biblical sins and only have occasional lapses in the
Rabbinical fences then indeed you can avoid sin. You aren't perfect...there
is probably still alot of evil you haven't corrected but you haven't sinned.

I believe a fundamental idea of Judaism is that the moral law is
implementable. Indeed it says explicitly in the Bible: <  <  For this thing
(the law) is very close to you in both deed and act>  >

Russell Jay Hendel Phd ASA
Rhendel @ mcs drexel edu