Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Follow the majority


Regarding communal practices:

"We follow the majority, as our sacred Torah decreed, 'Incline after the many.' One who disputes the majority is called a sinner. Whether the majority are wealthy or indigent, learned or average, there is no difference; the community as a whole is considered a beit din [court] for communal matters."

והולכים אחרי הרוב לפי גזרת תורתנו הקדושה אחרי רבים להטות והחולק עם הרבים נקרא חוטא ואין חלוק בזה אם היה אותו הרוב עשירים או עניים חכמים או הדיוטות מאחר שכל הקהל הם נקראים בית דין לענינים שביניהם

(Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrachi, Responsum 53)

Note: I am not quite comfortable with my translation of הדיוט here; I am not sure whether to take it as referring to average people (excluding the truly ignorant), or to take it as including even the ignorant.

Have a great day,


  1. Hediot is from the Greek ἰδιώτης (idiōtēs), which basically meant a blue collar worker or a farmer, a private person; ἴδιος, (idios) means "private", "one's own".

    Sidebar: In Latin it meant an uneducated person, from which eventually evolves the English word "idiot".

    As I see it, הדיות should be a synonym for עם הארץ, perhaps used more once am ha'aretz became a term of trade for a non-chaver -- perhaps even a professional or from the mercantile class.

    Not answering your question about translation, just trying to give you more to work with.

  2. R' Micha,

    All true - but because different sources use הדיוט in different ways, I'm not sure about the intent of R' Eliyahu Mizrachi. I suppose the ideal would be to gauge from his other other uses of הדיוט, but I must admit not being that competent in his writings.