Were the Avos in particular and other biblical protagonists (e.g. the Imahos) regular people? That is to say, do we generally ascribe deep holy explanations for their behaviors or just say they erred? Looking for views of the G'onim and Rishonim in particular and to a lesser degree the views of Chazal.

  • Does the Zohar count?
    – Yishai
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 18:16
  • @Yishai I suppose it counts as a rishon.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 18:17
  • 6
    what do you mean by regular people? were they human?
    – ray
    Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 18:20
  • 1
    Are you sure there is a dichotomy between holy ascription and human intent?
    – WAF
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 1:01
  • 1
    I am less sure what you are asking. Are you only asking about explanation of mistakes? Bad behavior? All behavior? And are you really presupposing any source that makes reference to sanctity and foibles untruthful?
    – WAF
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 2:46

2 Answers 2


The most famous case of a Rishon pointing out the human flaw of a patriarch is the Ramban's discussion of Avraham's descent to Egypt in Lech Licha 12:10. Rabbi Hirsch goes to great lengths to expound on that opinion.

The Medrash Rabba in the beginning of parshas Shemos has a list of our heroes who ruined their children by showing them too much love. Avraham Yitzchok and David made the list. This may or may not make your cut considering the Maharatz Chayos' assertion that the early Rishonim did not have it. I'm pretty sure Rabbi Hirsch mentions this medrash but I don't see it right now.

  • 1
    An excellent start!
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 0:22
  • he does this by the sending off of hagar as well
    – Baby Seal
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 1:09
  • Is it the same as the Rosh in yevamos regarding lech lecha?
    – sam
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 2:25

R. Avraham Ben HaRambam cites the verse "do not touch my anointed and do not harm my prophets" (Psalms 105:15) in the context of negative assessments of members of these categories. This would certainly include the Avos, (the prophecy of the Imahos on the other hand is not explicit in the Torah, so this "prohibition" isn't as clear.)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .