Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Bias

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

"There [in Be’er Sheva] he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Yitzchak." (Bereshith 46:1)

Why did Yaakov offer sacrifices in Be’er Sheva? Yaakov feared that perhaps his motives in making this journey to Egypt were not absolutely pure. Just as Yitzchak had loved Esav for giving him food, Yaakov reasoned that perhaps in this case too, it was food that was drawing him to Yosef: perhaps he was traveling to Egypt only for Yosef to feed him. When he sacrificed, he prayed to God to help him keep his intentions pure.1

Yaakov was one of the greatest personalities the Jewish Nation has known. It is hard to believe that he feared being influenced by a good meal that his son had to offer. Yet in his wisdom, Yaakov was aware that people can be influenced in the subtlest of ways, so even he had reason to fear that he was being influenced to some degree, on a subconscious level, to make the trip to Egypt for the wrong reasons. 2

The Torah shows a strong sensitivity to this human shortcoming. A set of halachic standards for judges in a Jewish court of law has been created which can eliminate as many biases as possible regarding cases that are brought to court. For example, if one of the parties arrives at court better dressed than the other party, the judge may not judge the case until both parties are dressed in similar attire. Likewise, the Torah forbids a judge to listen to one side of a dispute if the other party is not present.3 When one party in the lawsuit is absent, the other litigant is likely to add some false details to his own account.4 If one of the parties in a lawsuit has done even the slightest favor for a judge, the halachah states that it is praiseworthy for the judge to disqualify himself so that he will not be involved in deciding that case.5 This recommendation applies even if the party had merely removed a feather from the judge’s jacket. Feelings of indebtedness can be so strong that even so insignificant an act could bias his judgment of the case.6


1. Bereshith Rabbah 94:5.

2. Chidushei HaLev, p. 177.

3. Choshen Mishpat 17:5.

4. Chofetz Chaim – Introduction, Torah prohibition #2.

5. Choshen Mishpat 4:2.

6. Kethuvoth 105b.


Text Copyright © 2005 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

To Share in the Pain of Others
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

Hide the Shame
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Hashem's Promise
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Law and Order
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5760

Of Showers, Towers, and False Powers
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

People In Stone Houses Should not Cast Bricks
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5774

ArtScroll

The Excitement of Every Day
Shlomo Katz - 5775

From Life
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

Investing in the Land
Shlomo Katz - 5767

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Din of the Din
Rabbi Label Lam - 5775

Noach - A 'Standard' Tzaddik
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

"G-d Watches Over Man"
Shlomo Katz - 5764

> Noach's Lessons for Our Day
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762

Not Better or Worse, Just Different
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5756

Back To The Daily Grind
Shlomo Katz - 5765

Taking a Hint
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5766



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