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קָטֹנְתִּי מִכֹּל הַחֲסָדִים וּמִכָּל־הָאֱמֶת

I am unworthy of all the kindness and all the truth...(Bereshit 32:11)

Rashi on "truth":

ומכל האמת. אֲמִתַּת דְּבָרֶיךָ, שֶׁשָּׁמַרְתָּ לִי כָּל הַבְטָחוֹת שֶׁהִבְטַחְתַּנִי:

All the truth. You are true to your words, because You have already kept all the promises You made me

Is it me or is this an unexpected and interesting answer from Rashi?

Shouldn't his feeling of unworthiness come from the promises (and their inevitable fulfilment), not the fulfilment of the promises/Hashem's trustworthiness? Isn't that implying that Hashem only fulfils His own promises if the people He has promised are worthy?

I'm sure Rashi is telling us something amazing through this succinct and interestingly-worded point, what do you think?

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  • If we translate "katoniti" as "humbled" rather than "unworthy", then perhaps we can explain that Yaacov is simply saying "I am so impressed by your infinite trustworthiness, which makes my own trustworthiness feel pathetic in comparison"?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    May 16, 2023 at 8:54
  • Isn’t that exactly what the previous Rashi says - that you have to be worthy?
    – שלום
    May 16, 2023 at 11:49
  • @שלום yes indeed there is that implication there too. So is the answer that Hashem's promises are actually agreements, "I'll do x if you do y and don't do z"? And Yaacov is humbled because he feels he didn't deserve x because he was worried he did z?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    May 16, 2023 at 12:53
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    @RabbiKaii " Yaacov is humbled because he feels he didn't deserve x because he was worried he did z";is exactly the way I was taught this inyan at Yeshiva. I'm sorry to say I don't have a source May 16, 2023 at 13:00
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    @יהושעק do you think it's still strangely worded. If Hashem is indeed being praiseworthy for His fulfillment of promises despite the conditions of the other party being questionable, why is Yaacov thanking Him for His "havtachot" and not, say, His rachamim?
    – Rabbi Kaii
    May 16, 2023 at 13:05

1 Answer 1

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Ramban asks this question (thanks @Chatzkel) and explains that Rashi has made a mistake, and the real interpretation of this verse is as follows:

והחסדים הם הטובות שעשה עמו בלא נדר והאמת הטובה אשר הבטיחו ואימת לו הבטחתו יאמר שאיננו ראוי שיבטיחנו ויעשה לו אותן טובות שהבטיחו בהן ולא לטובות אחרות רבות שעשה עמו

Now hachasadim (the mercies) are the kindnesses which G-d did for him without having vowed to do them, and ha'emet (the truth) is the kindness which He promised him and fulfilled. Jacob thus said that he was unworthy of G-d’s promising him and performing those kindnesses which He promised him, nor was he worthy of those other many kindnesses which He did for him without having promised to do them.

Basically, when Yaacov says he was unworthy of the "truths", he was saying that he was unworthy of the promises in the first place.

He then adds that Emet is referring to long-lasting kindnesses that are well established, such as children.


My own thought: One might thus say in defence of Rashi that Rashi could be saying that Yaacov was humbled by the way Hashem kept His promises. As יהושע ק@ pointed out, Yaacov was Hashem's Chariot because of his having taken truth in purity (see Shaarei Orah Hakdama 6), so therefore he was an expert in "truth". His praise that Hashem's truth is humbling could mean that the way Hashem keeps His promises makes him feel small i.e. 'I thought I was good at keeping promises but Your promise keeping is truly Divine; You promised me children, but I didn't expect to be given such wonderful children, so many children, and a family line that will never persih' etc.

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