Parshas Vayeira

The Blame Game: Self Deception at its Finest

And Abraham said about Sarah his wife, "She is my sister," and Avimelech the king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. And God came to Avimelech in a dream of the night, and He said to him, "Behold you are going to die because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a married woman. (Bereishis 20:2-3)

Bad Idea: Hiding Behind “I Didn’t Know”

Although Avimelech kidnapped Sara Emainu in order to marry her, he does not see anything wrong with this. In fact when he was confronted by Hashem he said, “… Did he (Avraham) himself not tell me: ‘She is my sister’? And she, too, herself said: ‘He is my brother!’ In the innocence of my heart and integrity of my hands have I done this.” Implied in his reply is that he would never have approached Sara Emainu if he would have known the true nature of her relationship with Avraham. It seems that Hashem accepts this claim since He said to Avimelech in a dream, “I, too, knew that it was in the innocence of your heart that you did this, and I, too, prevented you from sinning against me….”

Does Innocent Mean Free From Sin?

If Hashem called Avimelech innocent then why did Avraham suspect that Avimelech may try to kill him in order to take Sara?

Innocence vs. Integrity

The problem is that Avimelech was righteous in his own eyes. He constantly made excuses for his behavior. Rebbe Nachman points out that Avimelech was actually surprised when Hashem accused him of immorality. Hashem confronted Avimelech with the truth “I know you think you were innocent - but you lack integrity (Hashem never acknowledged that Avimelech acted out of “integrity of hands”). Were you clean of immorality you would never have asked Avraham about Sara in the first place!” Avimelech crafted the situation to appear as if he was innocent but in reality he would’ve killed Avraham to attain his goal.

Integrity Guards Against Self-Deception

Self-deception leads to self-destruction. One expression of this is to blame others in order to cover up our own offenses, it can become habitual. The only way to break this pattern is to be brutally honest about our intentions. By doing so, this reinforces our integrity and we will never have to make excuses to convince ourselves or others of our innocence.

Over the years people have asked me if I would ever draw cartoons depicting some of the cases found in Yora Daya. Well, the answer is yes! I recently published a sefer called The Great Game of Kashrut. Click on the link to find out more: The Great Game of Kashrut

As for me, I don’t want to believe in a God that I understand. --

If you would like to dedicate a Davar Torah in honor of a special occasion or in memory of a beloved family member please contact Yisroel Simon at

Good Shabbos,
R’ Channen