imaginary family values presents

yesh omrim

a blog that reclines to the left


Richard M. Stallman, call your rabbi

21 November 2003

In Genesis 25:6, it says, “to the sons of Abraham’s concubines, he gave gifts.” My wife pointed out a Rashi on this verse, saying that these gifts were shem tum’ah, “impure names” that could be used for sorcery. Gur Aryeh (cited in the ever-helpful Reb Footnote) explains where the rabbis got this idea: since the previous verse reported that Abraham gave Isaac everything he owned, the concubines could not have received any physical gifts from Abraham.

The Gur Aryeh sounds very much like those people who say that you’re not really stealing from musicians when you download MP3s off the Internet, since nobody is being deprived of any physical property. I suppose that in Abraham’s time, they did not have a concept of “intellectual property.” Or if they did, it didn’t apply to kabbalistic formulas.