Torah.org 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

Footnotes:

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 Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON VAYEITZEI AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Departure of the 'Tent Dweller'
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5757

If Hashem Said to Go, You Go!
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

A Superficial Light
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

A New Role
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

A Celebration of Spiritual Victory
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

The Key To Something More
Rabbi Label Lam - 5762

ArtScroll

Miracles of Modesty
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5762

My Brother, My Enemy
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

Every Last Drop
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Smokescreen
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Waning or Waxing
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

How to Affect Your Enviroment
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5755

> The Twelve Stones Become One: Inverted Symbolism?
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772

Taking A Stand - Making A Difference
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

Chanaukah Lights
Shlomo Katz - 5765

Enlightening the Present From the Past
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766



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