Lying Does Not Pay

We must remember to keep the long term ramifications of a lie in mind.

Commentary on Parashat Vayigash, Genesis 44:18 - 47:27

Mistakes happen, and as self respecting folks we don’t like when we ‘mess up.’ It is very tempting, and often convincing, to present and/or perceive the facts a bit differently. We can deny ever having said something compromising or running a stop sign, and maybe convince ourselves that we didn’t do anything wrong. The problem is that we can be a little too short-sighted sometimes.

Joseph is sold by his brothers because they decided they wanted to get rid of him. After selling Joseph, his brothers engage in an elaborate deception designed to give their father the impression that Joseph had been torn apart by wild animals. Much to their shock, Joseph pops up many years later as a ruler in Egypt. Now the brothers are faced with the very uncomfortable reality of being caught. Not only did they commit a crime against their brother, but they also lied to their father.

We rarely lie out of malice or a desire to be dishonest. More often than not, we end up lying because it’s more convenient to say an untruth than to admit to an uncomfortable truth at that particular moment. But if someone else saw or heard, we’re in double trouble now that we’ve lied about it. We must remember to keep the long term ramifications of a lie in mind.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about why lying doesn’t pay. If we come clean right away we’ll usually be forgiven anyway…


· Why are we tempted to lie?

· Is it bad to lie or just not smart?

· Is it ever right to lie?

From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.


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