Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Vezos Haberachah – Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12

We teach our children to tell the truth. We decry the dishonesty of others. And yet in our heart of hearts, we know we don’t always live up to this standard. Are we being hypocritical? The reality is even G-d lied. Parshas Vezos Haberachah explains:

“And the sons of Israel bewailed Moses in the plains of Moab for 30 days…” (Deuteronomy/Devarim 34:8)

Is It Ever Right Not to Tell the Truth?

This week’s parsha, read on Simchas Torah, completes the cycle of readings for the year. In it, Moses blesses each of the tribes individually then the Children of Israel as a group. It ends with his death and praise for the unique quality of his Prophecy.

Moses Always Told the Truth

Great as Moses was, at the time of his death we find that like most people he was not the best at everything. When his brother Aaron died, the Torah says, “When the entire assembly saw that Aaron had perished, they wept for Aaron 30 days, the entire house of Israel.”

Note the distinction. The Israelite men mourned Moses. Men, women, and children, Jews and non-Jews, all mourned Aaron. If greatness is measured by how many people grieve over you, clearly, Aaron was the superior of his brother. How?

Above all things Moses valued truth. Certainly, this is a noble characteristic. But his inability to move out of this frame left him deficient in another important life skill. Moses struggled to connect with people. He commanded their respect as their teacher. But when they needed understanding or a compassionate ear to bridge a dispute, Moses fell short.

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Aaron excelled at bringing peace between spouses. He went to extraordinary lengths to resolve conflicts between people. Sometimes he would bend the truth slightly by telling both disputants that the other wanted to reconcile but just couldn’t make the first move. Aaron never doubted that people wanted to live harmoniously. So he felt justified in “telling the truth in advance.”

When G-d Withheld the Truth

The Almighty set the example. When Sarah laughs upon hearing she’ll have a child in her old age, she calls her husband old. But when G-d related the incident to Abraham He chose not to mention this in order to prevent disharmony between wife and husband.

Moses could never bring himself to compromise his integrity, even for such a noble cause. Reflecting at the end of his life he was struck by Aaron’s deep love for people. He realized his brother connected in a way he could not.

Should You Be Blunt or Caring

While I’m not encouraging you to lie, think about your purpose and mission in life. Will being completely candid help you create the kind of relationships you want and need? Perhaps withholding criticism is better than being starkly honest. Maybe saying a kind work that you don’t necessarily believe will improve a relationship when silence won’t.

It turns out 100% candor isn’t the best policy. You’ll have to decide when to deviate from bluntness. Start by considering how you can improve your connection with your family.

When do you think it’s okay to stray from the truth?

You can leave a comment on this question or ask another question below


Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. Its name comes from the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.

Do you have a question about the Old Testament? Ask it here and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!

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