Commentary on Parashat Mishpatim, Exodus 21:1 - 24:18; Exodus 30:11-16
“I cannot tell a lie” are the famous words of our first president. Though it is honorable that Washington chose to tell the truth, he could have avoided lying in a different way. He could have considered the potential trouble he would end up in for chopping down the tree.
Mishpatim, this week’s Torah portion, warns to avoid falsehood. The wording is unlike any other instruction or warning in the Torah. Instead of simply saying, “Don’t lie,” it states “keep far away from falsehood.” The Torah is encouraging us to be mindful of our actions and their potential consequences. Stay far away from lying and deception and avoid actions you may need to lie about. If you cannot tell the truth about it, it is probably wrong.
Suppose a child is approached by a classmate who asks him or her to help cheat on an upcoming test. While it may be difficult for children to resist cheating, they certainly would not want to tell anyone they cheated. However, if caught, they will have to choose between admitting to a misdeed and lying. We can “Keep far away” from the temptation to lie by considering the results of our decisions before we make them!
TALK TO YOUR KIDS about telling the truth AND being a truthful person.
CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:
· Why is lying wrong?
· Would you do something bad if you knew you would have to tell someone you did it?
· Do you trust people that you know tell lies?
· What about a fraud or deception that doesn’t technically involve a lie?
From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.
Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.