BS"D I recently heard an amazing Dvar Torah on how Jonah (remember the guy who got swallowed by the fish?) did not want to fulfill G-d's command that he warn the city of Nineveh to correct their conduct. Turns out the book of Jonah opens by telling us his name is "ben Amatai"- literally, the son of Amatei. Read another way, this could be alluding to his obsession with the truth (Emet).
  וַיְהִי, דְּבַר-יְהוָה, אֶל-יוֹנָה בֶן-אֲמִתַּי, לֵאמֹר.

In other words, Jonah did not want to rebuke Nineveh because he thought that they had been wrong, and deserved to be punished. This is in stunning contrast to Hashem's words regarding this Assyrian city: 

י  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה--אַתָּה חַסְתָּ עַל-הַקִּיקָיוֹן, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-עָמַלְתָּ בּוֹ וְלֹא גִדַּלְתּוֹ:  שֶׁבִּן-לַיְלָה הָיָה, וּבִן-לַיְלָה אָבָד.10 And the LORD said: 'Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow, which came up in a night, and perished in a night;יא  וַאֲנִי לֹא אָחוּס, עַל-נִינְוֵה הָעִיר הַגְּדוֹלָה--אֲשֶׁר יֶשׁ-בָּהּ הַרְבֵּה מִשְׁתֵּים-עֶשְׂרֵה רִבּוֹ אָדָם, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדַע בֵּין-יְמִינוֹ לִשְׂמֹאלוֹ, וּבְהֵמָה, רַבָּה.  {ש}11 and should not I have pity on Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle?' 

I am definitely giving you the short version of this Dvar Torah, but Jonah was being told by G-d that He does not just conduct his word by strict justice. The Midrash- a collection of traditions on how we can learn lessons from the Torah's stories- tells us that G-d first intended to create the world in this way, but "saw that it could not endure." So he added  Mercy- Rachamim. For more details on this from a kabbalistic perspective, see 

*******In Kabbalah, the attribute of Kindness and Giving (Chesed) is followed by the attribute of Strict Justice (Gevruah). Afterwards, mediating the two we find the attribute (sefira) of Tiferet, which has multiple aliases. One of them is Truth, and another is Mercy. So when we show mercy to another, and give them another chance, we are acting in a G-dly fashion. It is not as if we are giving them a "freebie" - on the contrary, to be Merciful is to act Truthfully!!!!

Have a great day!!!! 


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    Yaakov Grossman is a Jewish educator, author, private tutor/child care professional, and student in the Metro New York area. Professional inquiries should be addressed to

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