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by Dr. Avigdor Bonchek


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Parashas Veyechi

Genesis 46:29

Jacob is speaking to Joseph and he says: "If I may find favor in your eyes place your hand under my thy and do for me kindness and truth - don't bury me in Egypt."


Kindness and Truth: Rashi: Kindness that one does with the dead is a kindness of truth for he doesn't expect any remuneration.

In this way Rashi explains the two terms "kindness" and "truth." These are not two separate qualities, rather they are one - a true kindness with no ulterior motive. But the question is asked if these terms are reserved only for kindness done for the dead how come we find the same words in a different context having nothing to do with the dead.

Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, asks permission from Rivka's family to take her as a wife for Isaac. He says: (Genesis 24:49)

"And now if you will show kindness and truth for my lord, tell me, and if not tell me etc."

Can you see a difference between these two situations? You Answer:

An Answer: When questioning Rashi we must be careful we read his words carefully. He doesn't say: Only kindness done for the dead is a kindness of truth. He says that any kindness done for the dead is a kindness of truth. So any kindness that doesn't expect remuneration can be considered a kindness of truth. And perhaps here Rivka's family, since they were sending her far way didn't expect any material benefit from this marriage.

Though this answer is somewhat problematic since in verse 24:53 it says that once they agreed to have Rivka go, Eliezer did give them gifts of silver and gold.

Another answer given is that these words must be seen in context. In the case of Eliezer, he was saying "Do this kindness of allowing Rivka to marry Isaac, (and not someone else) which is really the Right thing to do (the Truth in this situation).

In our case of Jacob and Joseph, on the other hand, the word Truth doesn't have any reasonable meaning on its own. It is obviously the right thing to do to listen to your father and fulfill his wish. Therefore here, the word Truth makes more sense as an adjective of kindness - a true kindness, since he could look forward to no reward from his dead father.

A note to our readers: We are preparing to publish the Vayikra volume of "What's Bothering Rashi?" It will add another dimension to the study of Rashi - this time Rashi's creative use of the midrash. We are looking for sponsors of this volume to enable us to publish it. Contributions can be made in Memory of or in Honor of close ones. The previous volumes of "What's Bothering Rashi?" has been adopted for use in many schools and into many Jewish homes. Your sponsorship will make it possible to continue and enlarge this project. Those interested can write msbonch@mscc.huji.ac.il Shabbat Shalom

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