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January 14, 2019


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If what you're looking for is a "hermit" in the traditional definition of the term, whereby the person has chosen to separate themselves from the world, they are extremely rare in Judaism.

The Baal Shem Tov is a bad example because it was the very essence of Hasidism to interact and engage with the world. I have to disagree with Elijah as an example as well. Elijah's separation was largely driven by the fact that the people to whom he preached his prophecies to, rejected him, and so his separation from them was largely a rejection of the people because they failed to return to God.

Probably the closest you will find is Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai, but he initially separated himself because he was fleeing the Romans. It was only after he left his cave that the story goes that a voice from Heaven told him to return because he looked upon people with disdain.

Traditional Judaism does not believe in fulfillment religiously by separating oneself from the community. In fact, something as basic as daily prayers ares supposed to be done with a group of 10 men. Studying Torah and other sources are recommended as being done with a partner and solo study is actually discouraged. This is why I would have to say "hermits" are not Jewish, at least from a traditional viewpoint.


Adam - mostly well-said just to clarify one point, HaRav Shimon Bar Yochai did not have "disdain" for anyone but when he left the cave and saw people engaged in everyday trivialities (which is correct hevel havalim) he was dissapointed that rather than engage in spriritual uplifting they were involved in the mundane day to day world. That is why he was commanded by God to return for a bit longer to the cave to contemplate and understand. I am no scholar but I think perhaps the message is to turn the everyday into the spiritual to the extent we can do so (and this is a most difficult task but perhaps our reason for existence). The Reward is commensurate with the Difficulty.

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