The Sins of the Fathers

אֲמַר לֵיהּ רַבִּי זֵירָא לְרַבִּי יַעֲקֹב (בְּרֵיהּ) דְּבַת יַעֲקֹב

Rashi:

בריה דבת יעקב - אביו לא היה הגון לפיכך לא הזכירו:

Rashi tells us that this Amora was called “Yaakov Son of the Daughter of Yaakov” because his father was not fitting to mention.

We cannot know what crimes his father committed but it is inspiring to see that a major Amora can come from less than suitable yichus and still rise up the ranks based on merit. 

Also this Amora is rarely quoted. One other instance is a somewhat ambiguous statement in Shabbos 149b

וְאָמַר רַבִּי יַעֲקֹב בְּרֵיהּ דְּבַת יַעֲקֹב: כָּל שֶׁחֲבֵירוֹ נֶעֱנָשׁ עַל יָדוֹ — אֵין מַכְנִיסִין אוֹתוֹ בִּמְחִיצָתוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא.

And Rabbi Ya’akov, son of the daughter of Ya’akov, said: Anyone who causes another to be punished on his account, they do not bring him within the partition of the Holy One, Blessed be. 

Various commentaries discuss what Kinds of situations this dictum applies to, such as is it just if you curse or wish a punishment, or even if inadvertently the person is punished for doing wrong toward you. (See Tosafos Bava Basra 22a, Dibur Hamaschil “Ana”).

In any case, I wonder if having a father who was evil sensitized him, in some way, to this issue. As the relationship may have been difficult and Rav Yaakov needed to watch that he would not incite his father lest his father suffer on account of this. Or, perhaps the sages of the Gemara deemed Rav Yaakov to be the right messenger to give over this message as he fulfilled its dictates in the highest sense.

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Translation Courtesy of Sefaria

 

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