Kenneth Cohen


The Midrash teaches us an important lesson about honesty and truthfulness. One who has it, is blessed. One who is known as a liar, suffers the consequences.

This is the explanation to Yakov’s reaction, when the brothers give him the news, that Yosef is alive. The Torah tells us that Yakov was disheartened because he did not believe them.

The Midrash explains that Yakov replayed that horrible day, when he was brought Yosef’s coat, drenched in blood. They asked him if he recognized the coat. And now, they are telling him, that Yosef is alive! Of course, he didn’t believe them.

This is what every dishonest individual must know. When you gain a reputation for being a liar and a crook, people won’t believe you, even when you are telling the truth.

You might think you can fool people, in order to attain some kind of immediate gain, but the truth is eventually exposed. It takes years and years, to gain a reputation for trustworthiness and honesty. But when you acquire it, it is a great acquisition. People will trust you, and have no doubt, that your word is your word. This is most worthwhile, to gain such a reputation.

Yosef’s brothers paid a price for their act of deception. They lost the trust of their beloved father. We need to think twice before we do something dishonest and short sighted. It may take many, many years, to undo this act of foolishness.

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