Honesty is the best policy

In Parshat Vayeshev, Breisheet 40:60 we read: “And the chief baker saw that he (Yosef) had interpreted (the chief butler’s dream) well.”

How did the chief baker know that Yosef interpreted the chief butler’s dream accurately?

According to Rashbam (quoting the Talmud, Sotah 9b), true words are recognizable.

In the story of Shimshon and Delilah we see a similar situation. The first three times, Shimshon made up a story of where he got his strength from and Delilah did not believe him. The fourth time, he told her that he was a nazir with his strength coming from his hair.

At that point, the verse states (Shoftim 16:18): “Delilah saw that he (Shimshon) had told her all that was in his heart…”

The Talmud, Sotah 9b asks how she knew that this time Shimshon was telling the truth this time.

The Talmud offers two possible explanations:

Rabbi Chanin said in the name of Rav: True words are recognizable.

Rashi comments that she saw that he never cut his hair or drank wine, so it seemed logical that he was telling the truth that his strength came from his being a nazir.

Abaye said: She knew that the righteous one (Shimshon) would not utter the Name of Heaven in vain. Since he said “I am a nazir of God”, she said to herself , “now he is certainly telling the truth.”

Yosef as well invoked the name of God when he said Breisheet 40:8: “Do not interpretations belong to God?”

According to Chizkuni this can be interpreted to mean that maybe God ordered me to interpret your dreams.

Nehama Leibowitz points out that often the more important, the more profound the truth, the greater the impossibility of proving it- it bears witness to itself.

As the saying goes, “the truth speaks for itself.”

It is not enough to use God’s name or dress in a religious fashion in order to be accepted as an honest person. Your reputation precedes you. If a person is legitimate and tells the truth then they will be looked upon as honest and believed. If they are caught lying- and liars always get caught one way or another, they will lose their credibility.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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