Thursday, February 6, 2020

.ל”ד Three Things in Moderation

ת"ר שלשה רובן קשה ומיעוטן יפה ואלו הן שאור ומלח וסרבנות
The גמרא states that there are three things which are damaging in large quantities but are pleasant in small quantities: leavening, salt and refusal. Just three things? It would seem that perhaps we could include another. The .גמרא סוטה ה states with regards to גסות הרוח:
א"ר חייא בר אשי אמר רב ת"ח צריך שיהא בו אחד משמונה בשמינית
So an eighth of an eighth of haughtiness is good, at least for a תלמיד חכם. So why isn’t this included in the list of things that are nice in moderation? I think the answer lies in the גר”א’s insightful approach to the גמרא in סוטה. He asks why the גמרא chose that specific number. Doubling up the number has a certain poetic effect. But why not a seventh of a seventh, or a ninth of a ninth? The גר”א answers that an eighth of an eighth is 1/64, just less than 1/60. In other words, the גאווה should be בטל בשישים. So then you can’t even consider it a מעוט. Since it is בטל, it is as if it is not even there. So it does not qualify for this list.


  1. Can you please translate the opening pessukim you quote ?
    Thank you

    1. Are you referring to gemara in Berachos and the gemara in Sotah?
      Berachos: There are three things that are negative when in larger quantity but positive in moderation: Sourdough, salt, and refusal.
      Sotah: R' Chiya bar Ashi said in the name of Rav, A sage must have an eighth of an eighth of haughtiness.