Kenneth Cohen

Appreciating Straightforwardness

There are times that Rashi seems to be making a trivial point, but upon reflection, we realize the depth of that comment. One example is his description of the relationship between Yosef and his brothers.

The Torah describes how there was a great deal of tension between Yosef and his brothers. He irritated them greatly in several respects. He spoke Lashon Hara about them, he bragged about his dreams, and flaunted his coat of many colors. Because of this they were unable לדברו בשלום, speak peacefully with him.

Rashi’s comment on this is that from what appears to be negative about the brothers, is really positive. They were to be praised for not being two faced. There are those who feel one thing in their heart, and express something totally different in their mouth. The brothers were honest and straightforward enough, not to hide their feelings.

Part of the trauma that the Jewish people are currently experiencing, is the shock of learning that so called friends, were fake, and were concealing their true negative feelings towards Israel and the Jewish people.

There are many examples of this, but the one that sticks out is the attack of Alan Dershowitz on Barack Obama. He was genuinely shocked to see how Obama felt about us. Perhaps he should not have been so surprised, but the number of individuals that have not condemned Hamas for their atrocities did surprise many.

Our lives would be so much easier if we knew how people truly felt about us. Sometimes we are gullible and naive, and are unable to see the truth. When it is revealed, we are often devastated.

We need to appreciate individuals who behave like the sons of Yakov. They may not be perfect, but at least we know where we stand. An apparent trivial point of Rashi, carries an extremely important message.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at