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

Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 12:47:55 -0500
From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel)
Subject: Re: People who never sinned

Dov Laufer in Torah Forum Vol4 number 47 rejects my thesis that it is
impossible not to sin with several specific arguments. At the end he states
>  >  I'll provide Dr Hendel and others the opportunity of a reply to this part<  <  .

This posting of mine has generated several responses. I think this is good.
Because we are not only discussing the theoretical question if man can
avoid sin. We are also discussing HOW TO AVOID SPECIFIC CLASSES OF SINS.
Thus the discussion throws light on areas of sin that we find difficult to
observe. In previous issues we discussed talmud torah. In this issue we are
discussing LOSHON HARA, TALMUD TORAH and SHABBATH (Vol 4 Number 49)

1) LOSHON HARA: To avoid loshon hara you simply have to avoid 1a) outright
fabrication and slandering of people (this IS do-able) 1b) avoid telling a
person's enemies things that will insight them (like Doayg did to Shaul
about David..this too is doable...in passing, what is hard is avoiding
praising people before their enemies...but this is rabbinic) 1c) avoid
telling something bad about a person without a purpose and without going
thru the checklist of 7 things that one should check before saying
something bad about a person (listed in the chafetz chayim). I believe it
is this checklist that makes the loshon hara laws implementable.

2) The Tennis player analogy. Dov does not distinguish between skill
competency and sin. Take TALMUD TORAH---I have fulfilled the mitzvah if I
say kriath shma or learn one halachah. I am NOT violating Biblical law if I
don't study the rest of the day. But my Torah learning will be like that of
an unskilled Tennis player..I will make many mistakes.. nevertheless the
commandment to study is not a commandment to pasken without mistakes but
simply a commandment to learn at specified times.

3) SHABBATH (brought in Vol 4 number 49). I agree Shabbath has numerous
regulations and is hard to keep. My point simply is that if you want to
avoid Biblical transgressions and really put your mind to it you can.
Simply have a blech, only eat solid foods, check your pockets before
shabbath, have tissues ready in the bathroom etc.

As to Dov's other comments: My interpretation of Ecc 7:20 follows Rashi
(When everyone in the generation is sinning, then don't pay attention to
curses-it has nothing to do with whether sin is avoidable). {It by the way
was unnecessary of Dov to accuse me of thinking that I am wiser than King
Solomon. I was simply following Rashi. Dov's comments <  How can one commit
adultery accidentally>   is my point: It is easy to avoid sins like adultery.
Dov's statement that <  A person who doesn't know all Biblical commandments
who violates one has sinned>   is simply not true.  The Rav explicitly states
that a rabbinic law has as its sole purpose the avoidance of Biblical
sin...if you accidentally didn't observe the rabbinic law(because of
ignorance) and avoided Biblical sin then you haven't done anything wrong.

I invite further discussion on this subject. For it has generated an
interesting list of things that are hard to follow and methods to effect

Russell Jay Hendel; PHd; ASA
Rhendel@ mcs drexel edu