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It's been previously asked why the Chachamim were called the "Perushim," those who are separate. As I answered there,

Bartenura to Mishnah Yadayim 4:6 explains the name as follows:

פרושים. לחכמי ישראל היו קורין פרושים, לפי שאוכלין חוליהן בטהרה ופרושים ממגע עם הארץ, דתנן בגדי עם הארץ מדרס לפרושים:

To the Sages of Israel [the Tzedukim] would call Perushim [lit. “those who separate”], for they would eat their non-sacred food in purity and separate from touching Amei Ha’aretz. As we taught in the Mishnah (Chagigah 2:7): “The clothing of Amei Ha’aretz [contaminates by] treading for Perushim.”

Originally, when I read this Bartenura, I interpreted it to mean that the Tzedukim came up with the name; perhaps they meant it disparagingly, that the Chachamim think they're so great, they don't have to mingle with the common people. The Chachamim, on the other hand, took the term as a symbol of pride.

That's what I thought, until I was reminded of Kiddushin 66a, recalling an incident involving several Chachamim who were killed at a banquet held by King Yannai, which began with this comment:

ויאמר אלעזר בן פועירה לינאי המלך ינאי המלך לבם של פרושים עליך

And Elazar ben Po'irah said to King Yannai, "The hearts of the Perushim are against you."

King Yannai was Shimon ben Shetach's brother-in-law, Shimon ben Shetach was Antigonos Ish Socho's teacher, and Antigonos was Tzadok's and Baisos's teacher. Thus, the term "Perushim" was in use two generations before Tzedukim even existed!

My question, therefore, is twofold:

  1. Who first used the term Perushim to refer to the Chachamim?
  2. What was their motivation in doing so? That is, very nice that the term refers to that they separated themselves from Amei HaAretz, but why did this person feel the need to come up with this name? Did they mean it disparagingly, or complimentary?
  • The Chachamim called a sect of people the Prushim in a negative fashion,it doesn't always refer to the Chachamim . – sam Mar 1 at 1:01
  • See Sotah 22,there are more places – sam Mar 1 at 1:04
  • @sam When I was taught that Gemara it was that the Perushim are the Chachamim, and the seven types of Perushim mentioned there (it's 22b btw) are fakers. The real Perushim are Talmidei Chachamim, though. The only other Gemara I know of that could be read as the Chachamim using the term Perushim derogatorily is BB 60b, but it's unclear to me whether they indeed meant it as such; in context, they may simply have been stating the facts, that these people were withholding themselves from materialism in the wake of the Churban, or that they actually were a subset of Perushim as ordinarily used. – DonielF Mar 1 at 1:08
  • @Sam I heard a similar idea in shiur once about the tznuos in the beginning of ksuvos. Since they were karka olam, they were wrong for giving their lives up. It was the gemara's way of calling them frumies. – user6591 Mar 1 at 2:40
  • I don't understand why you included the distraction about tzedukim, but +1 in any event. Sounds intriguing. – user6591 Mar 1 at 2:41

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