The braita of Rabbi Pinchas Ben yair in Masechet Avodah Zara 20b enumerates the levels of moral virtues. As quoted below, there is a structured progression to get to the next virtue.

מכאן א"ר פנחס בן יאיר תורה מביאה לידי זהירות זהירות מביאה לידי זריזות זריזות מביאה לידי נקיות נקיות מביאה לידי פרישות פרישות מביאה לידי טהרה טהרה מביאה לידי חסידות חסידות מביאה לידי ענוה ענוה מביאה לידי יראת חטא יראת חטא מביאה לידי קדושה קדושה מביאה לידי רוח הקודש רוח הקודש מביאה לידי תחיית המתים וחסידות גדולה מכולן שנאמר (תהלים פט, כ) אז דברת בחזון לחסידיך

Parenthetically, the Ran determines ענוה to be the highest moral virtue, as discussed further in the Gemara.

My question is why is there not a braita addressing the levels of intellectual virtues?

Now before one can object and conjecture the braita of Pinchas Ben yair may also mean intellectual virtues, I’ll include the exact source later, but in Derush HaRan, in Drasha 5b, the Ran relates a statement of Rabbi Yochanan, that in order to attain prophecy, 4 prerequisites are required. 2 of them is being a חכם and an עניו. The Ran says the former, is the ultimate מעלות השכלית. A footnote in the Artscroll edition states the assertion is implied and doesn’t need proof. By moral virtues, מעלות המידות, he goes out of his way to prove this assertion and uses the aforementioned braita to prove humility is the sublime state of moral virtue. In passing, we see being a חכם is a separate and distinct virtue.

My questions are:

1.) Is there a braita, like that of Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair , but enumerating the intellectual virtues? If not 2.) Does any Gaon, Rishon, or Acharon make mention of this omission?

  • 2
    Funnily enough, I once heard Rb Avraham Gurwicz (Gateshead) explain how each level of the Mesillas Yesharim corresponds to a greater level of Torah learning (he demonstrated this by being medayek the leshonos of limud Torah throughout the sefer.) I.e. Torah meviah lidei zehirus, then the Torah of zehirus + zehirus is meviah lidei zerizus etc. – The GRAPKE May 19 at 15:57
  • This isn't a baraisa discussing moral virtues. It's a baraisa discussing a path to תחיית המתים. Where would intellectual virtue lead? – Yehuda May 21 at 15:17
  • @Yehuda The Ran addresses Anavah as the highest of the מעלות מידות. That would translate to moral virtue or any other variation constituting a level of middot. So it is discussing some sort of morality. And why should the two be mutually exclusive? The braita can address both points. – Yaakov Pinchas May 21 at 15:22

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