Home Subscribe Services Support Us
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Credit Where Credit is Due

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

Yosef answered Pharaoh, “It is not in my power [to interpret dreams]; the Almighty will provide an answer to Pharaoh’s satisfaction.” …And Pharaoh said to Yosef, “Since the Almighty has informed you concerning all this, there can be none other with as much insight and wisdom as you.” (Bereshith 41:16, 39)

We might think that after all the misfortunes and injustices he had suffered, Yosef should have taken advantage of this rare opportunity to claim credit because of his great humility. When he credited only God for the interpretation of the dreams, Yosef passed up a “golden opportunity” to impress Pharaoh. When Pharaoh saw this demonstration of Yosef’s honesty, he recognized that Yosef was a person – perhaps the only person – to whom he could entrust the welfare of his country.1

Someone who boasts about his own accomplishments appears to be serving God for the sake of gaining honor for himself, rather than to bring glory to God’s name. Such a person is held accountable for his boasting.2 For this reason many righteous people make it a habit to conceal their good deeds and downplay their spiritual level, ensuring that their intentions in serving God will always be pure. Humility of this type is permitted and praiseworthy. Accordingly, if someone is asked a question whose answer would bring him honor (for instance, if he is asked how many tractates of Gemara he knows), he is allowed to deviate from the truth in order to avoid this honor.3

One must be careful to give credit where it is due, especially regarding words of Torah. Someone who repeats words of Torah that he has heard from another without mentioning the name of the one who originated the ideas is considered a thief4 and a liar5 and he brings forces of destruction upon the world.6 This offense is especially severe if the originator of the Torah concept is no longer living, for mentioning his name in connection with his Torah thoughts would bring tremendous merit to his soul.7 On the other hand, one who ascribes the proper credit to the originator brings redemption to the world.8


1 Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz in Sichoth Mussar.
2 Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 565:1.
3 Bava Metzia 23b.
4 Tosefta Bava Kama, Ch. 7; Rav Akiva Eiger and Magen Avraham on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 156; Responsa Nodah B’Yehudah, Orach Chaim 20.
5 Responsa Maharam Shik Yoreh De’ah 156.
6 Masecheth Kalah, end.
7 Sanhedrin 96b.
8 Pirke Avoth 6,6.

Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and



View Complete List

Hide the Shame
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Delight Amidst Devastation
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

A Sobering Lesson
- 5768

Looking for a Chavrusah?

'Moment'ary Blunders
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

Rabbi Frand on Parshas Noach
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

Stealing: Not For The Taking
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5767

> Immorality Around Us
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Hashem's Promise
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

People In Stone Houses Shouldn
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Roots of Evil
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Internal Beliefs Have External Effects
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5758

The Rainbow Coalition
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761


Making Something of Nothing
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5764

Compliments -- In The Presence And Outside The Presence Of A Person
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5774

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

Nourishment for the Soul
Shlomo Katz - 5760

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information