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 NETZAVIM AND VAYEILECH:

View Complete List

A Higher Holiday
Rabbi Label Lam - 5768

Do It For the Kids
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5759

Duality of Emotion
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Let the Light In!
Shlomo Katz - 5762

Haven't I Seen You Somewhere Before?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5761

Vested Interest
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5762

> Lost in Translation
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

Timely Words
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

Knock, Knock, Knocking on Prayer's Gate
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5766

ArtScroll

Only Skin Deep
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5766

Sputterless
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Waking Up in Time
Rabbi Label Lam - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Even Hashem Repents
Shlomo Katz - 5764

Prayer with Legs to Stand On
Shlomo Katz - 5773

Facing the Covenant
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5764

The Mystical Tug of the Shofar
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768



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