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 VAESCHANAN AND TU BEAV:

View Complete List

Harpstrings of the Heart
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773

Appreciating Our Blessings
Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig - 5761

Double Standards
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5766

Looking for a Chavrusah?

The Easy Commandment
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5765

You Can't Plead Everyone
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

The Formula to Achieve Contentment
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Simply- a Symptom of Love
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

It’s free!
Shlomo Katz - 5773

Torah Study - Review vs. New
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5758

> You the Man; No, You the Man
Jon Erlbaum - 0

Mi Casa Es Su Casa
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

Sight and Insight
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5767

ArtScroll

The True Consolation Prize
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Humble, Yet Proud
Shlomo Katz - 5761

For You Not Me
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5763

The Jealousy Antidote
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5772



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