Are Torah Scholars Automatically Righteous?

Question

Are Torah scholars automatically righteous? Is it possible for someone still to be wicked even though he accumulates profound Torah knowledge? Is there any example of the evil Torah scholars in Jewish sources?

1 year

Answers

  1. No, Torah scholars are not automatically righteous. In fact, no one is. Righteousness is something that one must work on very hard to acquire. More than that, there are no guarantees that righteousness, once acquired, will remain with the person unless they continue to work on it and aspire to even greater levels.

    The Talmud is replete with descriptions of the greatest scholars who proved that they were not righteous. Possibly the most famous of them is Alishah ben Avuyah who is known as Acher in the Talmud. Acher was possibly the greatest scholar in his generation and yet he ended up abandoning his beliefs. The Mishna tells of a High Priest called Yochanan who was righteous for the first eighty years of his life and he. also, abandoned his righteousness.

    How is it possible that such accomplished Torah scholars could possibly leave the path of the Torah and abandon God? Because the Torah is not a guarantee that a person will be righteous. The Torah contains all of the tools to allow a person to reach the highest levels of righteousness but, ultimately, it is dependent on each and every individual to want to be righteous. Without that the Torah knowledge that they accumulate is simply information. Information that has not been utilized to make a transformation.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team