Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Ambiguous Statements III

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

"…Perhaps it was an oversight on their part." (Bereshith 43:12)

The previous essay discussed the importance of accustoming oneself to saying, “I don’t know.” One could ask: is there not a certain amount of deception in one saying that one does not know something when in fact one does? Is it not better to tell the truth?

How insightful were our Sages when they said that one should “accustom” one’s tongue to say that one does not know. By making a habit of this, it becomes a type of catch phrase rather than an expression of fact. When people recognize that this statement is a regular part of one’s conversation, they will no longer take it literally. Consequently there is no question of falsehood involved (1).

A certain Rav would often reply, “I don’t know,” when asked his opinion. On one occasion, one of his students asked him a question and received the usual repsponse, “I don’t know.” The student, wanting to get a clearer answer, mustered up his courage and asked: “What does the Rav mean when he says ‘I don’t know’?” The Rav responded, “Sometimes I don’t know; other times I know but I realize that the person asking me disagrees, and will not be budged. In that case, it is preferable to say ‘I don’t know’ than to engage in a meaningless argument.” Recognizing that the Rav was speaking frankly, the student continued “So what did ‘I don’t know’ mean in this case?” The Rav smiled and said, “I don’t know”(2).


1. Commentary of the Paath Lechem on the Chovoth Levavoth Shaar HaYichud, Ch. 2. See also related essay entitled “Ambiguous Statements I,” (page 136) on Bereshith 23:11, 15-16. 2. Heard from Rav Pinchas Lebovic.


Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 
Sell Chometz Online







ARTICLES ON KEDOSHIM AND THE OMER:

View Complete List

Too Familiar
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Separate and Pure
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Accountable for Our Priorities
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Kiddush Moments
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5772

The Senior Partner
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5767

Make Your Parents and Teachers Proud
Shlomo Katz - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Lag B'Omer & The Big Picture
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

Unspoken Words
Rabbi Label Lam - 5760

The Value of Reverence
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5764

> Will That Be A Medium, Or Well Done?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5764

The Three Crowns
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5762

The "Second" Pesach
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

ArtScroll

It Is Easier To Overcome Physical Pain Than To Suppress The Human Psyche
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Burden of Reproof
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5757

Cloaked in Dignity
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

Holy Mitzvah!
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information