Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Truth And Justice

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

Avraham answered, “I realized that the one thing that is missing here is the fear of Elokim. Therefore I could have been killed on account of my wife.” (Bereshith 20:11)

Although the Hebrew word Elokim in general is a reference to God, in this case it also refers to the magistrate (1). Avraham expressed his fear that since the people who lived in Gerar had no fear of their ruling authorities, they were so lacking in discipline that they would have killed him in order to take his wife. (They were not altogether corrupt, for although they would have killed a man to fulfill their desires, they would not have gone so far as to molest a married woman.)

Many people who are basically honest are not careful regarding the violation of “minor” government-imposed laws. Our Sages, however, tell us that government regulations have the same status as other parts of Jewish law, and this is accepted as the halachah (2). Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, for example, was very careful never to violate any law. He would never cross the street when the light was red, even if there were no cars in sight.

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations in which it is difficult for us to tell “the whole truth” to government officials. Even under such circumstances, someone who has mastered the trait of integrity can muster the inner strength to avoid justifying lying. One such incident occurred when Rav Noigershel, one of the great living teachers of Jewish ethics, was being driven to Jerusalem. His driver, who had spent the entire night caring for his father in the hospital, had not slept at all. As they were entering Jerusalem, the driver fell asleep at the wheel and the car skidded off the road down the side of a cliff. Miraculously, neither Rav Noigershel nor his driver was harmed.

Moments after the accident police were on the scene. Rav Noigershel advised his driver to tell the police the true story of what had happened and why, for, he explained, after having experienced such a miracle, he owed it to God to tell the truth. By telling the police that he had fallen asleep at the wheel, the driver was risking suspension of his driver’s license and the loss of his insurance benefits, but he chose to follow Rav Noigershel’s advice. Significantly, he suffered no major negative consequences as a result of his having spoken the truth (3).


1. Seforno on Bereshith 20:11.
2. Nedarim 28a; Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 369:2,7,8,9; Rambam, Laws of Theft (gezeila) 5:11-18.
3. Heard from Rav Avraham Krohn.


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


 


ARTICLES ON VAYIGASH AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Destiny Today
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Time Study
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

Shadowy Existence
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

> Waning or Waxing
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

Yosef Recognizes His Brothers
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

Balanced Perspective
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

It's MY Business
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5761

The World of Learning
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

Every Little Bit Counts
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5763

ArtScroll

The Root of the Problem
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

Candle Lighting Blessings
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5761

Jewish Unity
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5763

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Why Didn't Yosef Send A Letter?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5766

O Chanukah, O Chanukah . . .
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5765

Thanks for What?
Shlomo Katz - 5774

Sparing Embarrassment Of His Brothers Was Worth The Risk
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773



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