Kenneth Cohen

Liars Lose Credibility

It is interesting to note that when the brothers originally came with the news that Yosef was alive, Yakov did not believe them. It was only after showing real proof, did Yakov celebrate the good news.

It may not have seemed so significant to let us know that at first they were not believed. The Rabbis pointed out an important lesson here. This is the punishment of a liar; even when he is telling the truth, he is not believed. The implication here is that the brothers had lost their credibility with their father, based on their past behavior.

We are confronted with many liars in our every day life. When we feel that we have been lied to many times, we lose our trust in that individual. It is particularly troubling if we lose such trust in our spouse or our children. And we certainly must be careful that we, ourselves, are not loose with the truth.

It is a very heavy price to pay when we are not trusted at our word. We become outcasts to our peers and have difficulty functioning. We must work very hard to regain our credibility and trustworthiness.

The Rabbis emphasize over and over again that there is a connection between Shalom, peace, and Emet, truth. One cannot attain a sense of peacefulness when he lives with lies. Yosef’s brothers learned this lesson, and so must we.

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