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I was recently thinking about the cultural concept of a "genie" who provides wishes (usually 3). There are generally two categories of wish in these stories:

  • Someone tries to find 3 wishes that maximises the self-benefit dream-fulfilment for themselves.

  • Someone makes a wish for the whole world. Often the moral of the story is that wishful thinking is not enough, and the wish for "world peace" (or whatever) backfires in some way, because it wasn't well thought-out.

This then led me to try and think of examples in the Torah and our traditions of "wishes" made by our forefathers and sages, whether personal or for the whole world. I have come up with 6 so far. Here's what I have:

  1. Adam and Chava chose to make the world a world of death and curses, by eating from the tree of knowledge, and according to a few opinions, this was the correct choice and was what Hashem intended all along1.
  2. Avraham asked Hashem for aging in the world (nobody physically "aged" beyond a certain point until then), and Hashem agreed that it was a good wish and granted it2.
  3. Yitzchak asked Hashem for physical suffering in the world (people generally lived their lives without any pain or suffering), and Hashem agreed that it was a good wish and granted it2.
  4. Yaacov asked Hashem for illness in the world (people would never get sick, and would just die suddenly when their time arrived), and Hashem agreed that it was a good wish and granted it2.
  5. Chizkiyahu asked Hashem for healing in the world, and Hashem agreed that it was a good wish and granted it2.
  6. King Shlomo wished for wisdom over riches, and Hashem agreed that it was a good wish and granted it3.

My question is, are there any more? Only examples where the "wish" was praiseworthy please (examples of Torah personalities making the wrong choice would be best asked as a separate question). I would also leave out examples of people simply davening for something and getting what they davened for. That's not exactly in the theme of a "wish".


1 - see מאמר באתי לגני תשל"א for example.
2 - see Bereshit Rabbah 65:9
3 - see Melachim 1:3:5-10

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  • This episode? sefaria.org.il/Yoma.69b.6?lang=bi
    – Joel K
    Jan 3 at 12:26
  • @JoelK I would say, yes! There are some features to that event that are slightly different but I don't think that's me'akev. Shkoyach
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 3 at 12:36
  • Ta'anit 4a sefaria.org/Taanit.4a.4 > Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan said: Three people entreated God in an unreasonable manner, i.e., in situations where their requests might have received an unfavorable answer. To two of them God responded reasonably, with a favorable response to their requests, and to one God responded unreasonably, i.e., unfavorably, in a manner befitting the unreasonable request. And they are: Eliezer, servant of Abraham; Saul, son of Kish; and Jephthah the Gileadite.
    – Mordechai
    Jan 3 at 15:33

1 Answer 1

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A couple of other potential ones...

  1. Avraham's plea to save Sodom - Bereishis 18:32

וַ֠יֹּ֠אמֶר אַל־נָ֞א יִ֤חַר לַֽאדֹנָי֙ וַאֲדַבְּרָ֣ה אַךְ־הַפַּ֔עַם אוּלַ֛י יִמָּצְא֥וּן שָׁ֖ם עֲשָׂרָ֑ה וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לֹ֣א אַשְׁחִ֔ית בַּעֲב֖וּר הָעֲשָׂרָֽה

And he said: Pray let my Lord not be upset; I wish to speak just this one time: Perhaps there will be found there only ten! He said: I will not bring ruin, for the sake of the ten.

  1. Bereishis 37:2 starts recounting the generations of Yaakov and launches into the story of Yosef. Rashi there famously notes how Yaakov just wanted to live a comfortable life after a number of trials and tribulations. He concludes there:

וְעוֹד נִדְרָשׁ בּוֹ וישב, בִּקֵּשׁ יַעֲקֹב לֵישֵׁב בְּשַׁלְוָה, קָפַץ עָלָיו רָגְזוֹ שֶׁל יוֹסֵף – צַדִּיקִים מְבַקְּשִׁים לֵישֵׁב בְּשַׁלְוָה, אָמַר הַקָּבָּ"ה לֹא דַיָּן לַצַּדִּיקִים מַה שֶּׁמְּתֻקָּן לָהֶם לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא, אֶלָּא שֶׁמְּבַקְּשִׁים לֵישֵׁב בְּשַׁלְוָה בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה

Another comment on this verse is: וישב AND HE ABODE — Jacob wished to live at ease, but this trouble in connection with Joseph suddenly came upon him. When the righteous wish to live at ease, the Holy one, blessed be He), says to them: “Are not the righteous satisfied with what is stored up for them in the world to come that they wish to live at ease in this world too! (Bereishis Rabbah 84:3)

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  • Thanks, however I would class the first as an appeal, rather than a "wish" (what do you think?), and the second seems like a personal wish, but Hashem did not approve (which goes against my condition in the final paragraph)
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 3 at 13:52
  • The second seems like a general concept for tzaddikim seeking to live at ease. Are you only looking for "wishes" that are granted?
    – Dov
    Jan 3 at 14:04
  • Not necessarily, just ones that are approved. E.g. "Retzoneinu lirot et Malkeinu" was approved but not granted (not that this was necessarily a "wish")
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Jan 3 at 14:07

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