Biblical Zealotry: Its Nature and Parameters in Early Modern and Modern Rabbinic Thought
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The author of the fifteenth-century German-Jewish ethical work, SeferOrchot Tzaddikim, 1 extensively explains the negative aspects of the middah(personal trait) of azut (strong-minded stubbornness). He describes that one who possesses this middah can often fall to the lowest of the low as a religious persona, and can be considered a truly evil person (a rasha). One who has this middahis not embarrassed to commit any offense, even in the presence of others, and he will therefore continue to sin since all sins(aveirot) seem very light or minor to him. Such a middahcan even bring a person to embarrass his friends and teachers. However, the middah of azuthas within it a positive aspect as well. When a person uses this middah within the realm of Torah and the service of G-d, or to stand up against those who perform aveirotand defile G-d’s name, this trait can be transformed into a positive middah for it allows the individual to continue to domizvot despite the thoughts and actions of others.
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