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זוהי מידת סדום

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by fsm*, Jul 25, 2014.

  1. fsm* Senior Member

    Hi everyone,
    What is the meaning of the expression זוהי מידת סדום? I am reading an article written by Israeli president Reuven Rivlin. The introduction says:

    נשיא מדינת ישראל החדש, ראובן ריבלין, כותב את נקודת מבטו על מוסד הנשיאות: תפקיד כמעט חסר סמכויות, שהדבר היחיד שעושה אותו הוא האדם האומר שלי שלי, שלך שלך, זוהי מידת סדום

    Here is my attempt:
    Israel's new president, Reuven Rivlin, writes his point of view on the office of the presidency: a position almost without authority which can only be done by the man who says what's mine is mine, what's yours is yours and that's the extent of .....

    Is this a biblical or talmudic reference? Thanks for your help.
  2. Haskol Junior Member

    Hebrew, English - US/Canada
    It's a reference to a Mishnah in Avot 5/10:
    האומר שלי שלי שלך שלך, זו מדה בינונית
    ויש אומרים זו מדת סדום
    It's about different types of people, and it says that he who says "what's mine is mine, and what's yours is yours" is a middle type of person, neither good nor bad (could also translate as mediocre). But some say it is the way of the people of Sodom, who didn't care about others, but only about themselves.

    It's much deeper than I can explain in a few sentences, but check the Mishnah with commentaries and it should give you an idea of the meaning.
  3. arielipi Senior Member

    בינוני is mediocre, not middle...

    in general ידת סדום is something seen as a horrible trait, since the people of Sodom were horrible (the word 'sodomy')
  4. origumi Senior Member

    Maimonides (הרמב"ם) and other see מידה בינונית as a good thing, maybe similar to שביל הזהב:

    הדרך הישרה - היא מידה בינונית שבכל דעה ודעה, מכל דעות שיש לאדם; והיא הדעה שהיא רחוקה משני הקצוות ריחוק שווה, ואינה קרובה לא לזו ולא לזו. ולפיכך ציוו חכמים הראשונים שיהא אדם שם דעותיו תמיד, ומשער אותן ומכוון אותן בדרך האמצעית, כדי שיהא שלם (משנה תורה, ספר המדע, הלכות דעות, א' ו')

    I guess President Rivlin will follow מידת הבינוניות and not מידת סדום: both appear in the same context (as Haskel mentioned) but as totally different things. The former is good, the latter is bad.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
  5. arielipi Senior Member

    Ah, well, you are talking of this thing, then yes; but on everyday basis it is mediocre. and who says being mediocre is bad? mediocre is another word for average.
  6. Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Which is the same thing as being in the middle.
  7. origumi Senior Member

    Merriam Webster says, for example, that "mediocre" may mean "of low quality". Exactly like בינוני in Hebrew. But in the context of מידת סדום not quality is being measured, as Maimonides demonstrates, so this is irrelevant to the thread topic. בינוני here is "in the middle of behavior/conduct/moral/(or alike) scale" rather than "in the middle of quality scale".
  8. Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Well in this case it is the quality of their behavior and morals, so it still applies.
  9. origumi Senior Member

    That's why I quoted Maimonides who explains it clearly: "the opinion which is equally remote from the two extremes, not near to either of them". It's a mechanic issue in which people's opinion-diversity is regarded as a scale whose middle is the place where one should better be. According to this, the middle is of highest quality (in some sense) and yet this is a consequence and not the basic meaning.
  10. Drink Senior Member

    New England
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    Ok that makes sense now.
  11. arielipi Senior Member

    Middle isnt necessarily average.
  12. fsm* Senior Member

    Just to clarify the original sentence that I quoted: why does it say הדבר היחיד שעושה אותו and not הבן אדם היחיד שעושה אותו ?
    I assume it means "the only person who does it (the job of the presidency)."
  13. arielipi Senior Member

    The only thing that makes it [what it is/isnt] is the man...
  14. origumi Senior Member

    Another word that requires clarification is מידה, literally measure. This can be way of thinking, way of behaving, moral code, etc.

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