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 YOM KIPPUR:

View Complete List

Saying Is Believing
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

The Role of Teshuvah
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Completing The Process
Rabbi Moshe Peretz Gilden - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

I Was Wrong
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

The Holy of Holies
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

To the “Seat of Mercy”
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Sair HaMishtaleach: The Scapegoat
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5767

Reaching Forgiveness
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

It's a Fast One
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5757

ArtScroll

The Fast of Gedalya
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

A Fast –Fast Day
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

I am a Work in Progress
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5760

> Picture Perfect
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5763

Repentance: A Story
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Yom Kippur - Getting In Touch With Ourselves
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5774

Shabbos Shuva - A Year-long Effect
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759



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