Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Name Withheld II

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

Shimon and Levi are a pair; instruments of violence are their wares. Let my soul not enter their plot; may my honor not be associated with them. (Bereshith 49:5,6)

Yaakov prayed that when the Torah described the spies and Korach’s rebellion, his name would be omitted from their lineage.1 As mentioned previously, the exclusion of Yaakov’s name implies that these acts were not motivated by character traits inherited from Yaakov.2 However, it is difficult to understand what Yaakov’s intentions were. If these actions did stem from him, how could Yaakov pray that his name would be left out of these stories? On the other hand, if it was not true, why did Yaakov “suspect” the Torah would write something false?

Yaakov is the symbol of truth, as the verse testifies, “Give truth to Yaakov.”3 It is therefore clear that these rebellions, which were acts of total falsehood, in no way stemmed from Yaakov. It is possible that Korach and the spies were falsely encouraged to rebel against the leadership of the Jewish people based on the way they misconstrued Yaakov’s act of taking the blessings from his brother Esav. Therefore Yaakov prayed that even if they did learn from him, his name should not be written in association with the rebellion, in order that people should not incorrectly assume that their actions stemmed directly from Yaakov’s personality traits.

In analyzing this complex episode in Jewish history we cannot ignore the following question: if the spies and Korach did learn from Yaakov, does this not throw some of the responsibility onto Yaakov’s shoulders? Is this not sufficient reason to write Yaakov’s name in association with their rebellions?

“The ways of God are straight; the righteous traverse them while the crooked stumble on them.”4 Often the very same path that the righteous take to arrive at truth can be used by the crooked for the sake of furthering falsehood. Yaakov acted solely with the intention of fulfilling God’s will and therefore the Torah did not concern itself with individuals who will try to misinterpret and distort his actions.

In the same vein, the Gemara poses the following inquiry: Should it list numerous ways that storekeepers could unknowingly cheat their clientele, in order to prevent them from inadvertently doing so, or is it preferable to omit these halachoth in order to prevent dishonest people from learning from these examples how to deceive their customers? Based on the above verse, the Gemara concludes that the proper course of action is to ignore the danger of crooked individuals, and to write these halachoth for the sake of the upright who wish to safeguard themselves from cheating others.5


1. Sanhedrin 109b.

2. See previous essay.

3. Michah 7:20.

4. Hosheah 14:10.

5. Bava Bathra 99b.


Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON VAYEITZEI AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Building a Jewish Home
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Sadly Released from Prison
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

Twin Peaks
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5768

> Anti-Semitism: The Original Source
Shlomo Katz - 5764

There to Share
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Torah Education
Rabbi Wein - 5768

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Body and Soul
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Every Last Drop
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

Bread Is for Eating
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Stairway to Heaven
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Understanding True Value in This World
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763

Time Study
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

ArtScroll

Today's Chanuka Miracle
Rabbi David Begoun - 5766

To Achieve Your Goals and not Cause Jealousy
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5770

Asleep on Hallowed Ground
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5772

Hey, Looks Like Supper!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5760



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