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This is part of a series of questions regarding the Braisa in Avos d'Rebbi Nassan 16:2 that lists how Yosef HaTzaddik, R' Tzadok, R' Akiva, and R' Eliezer HaGadol were able to overcome their inclination to sin.


The Braisa claims that each person on the list was greater than the previous one. In R' Tzadok's story, he was enslaved and imprisoned with a maidservant, but rather than sinning with her, he stared at the wall and learned Torah orally. When asked by his mistress why he didn't sin, he said he was descended from Kohanim Gedolim and was from a prominent family, and furthermore, he would produce mamzeirim from this union. Impressed by his answer, his mistress freed him with great honor.

How is that greater than Yosef? Great, perhaps, but is a one-night challenge greater than a daily challenge?

  • Yosef knew he would get into HUGE trouble if his deed would be discovered. R' Tzadok was expected to do it and almost got into trouble for NOT doing it. – Danny Schoemann May 22 '17 at 8:19
  • "The Braisa claims that each person on the list was greater than the previous one." I am not at all convinced that that is the correct translation of ואל תתמה על רבי צדוק שהרי רבי עקיבא גדול ממנו כשהלך לרומי. It is essentially missing a word. You seem to be reading it as though the word היה is inserted after the word עקיבא. I think it is much likelier that it means outdid this (or him). | Consider editing to how is what R. Tzadok did greater than what Yosef did. | Your basic question stay the same, though. – mevaqesh May 22 '17 at 18:11
  • @DonielF Sorry for my stupid question, but is this talking about R'Tzadok of Lublin? If so, how, history-wise, did he appear in a B'raisa? – SAH Nov 23 '18 at 14:38
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    @SAH לא הביישן לומד. It’s not R’ Tzadok of Lublin - there was also a Tanna by the same name. – DonielF Nov 23 '18 at 14:42

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