AY - Lesson 11 - Stay Far Away From Falsehood / Midvar Sheker Tirchok


We are here to improve our relationships with others

in order to transform the Jewish people in these urgent times.



Last week’s Stretch of the week was:  Think of someone you tend to argue with and resolve to speak to him/her calmly and reasonably at least three times in a row.

Please allow ONE person to share her experience with this exercise for ONE minute.


Lesson #11

Stay Far Away From Falsehood - Midvar Sheker Tirchok


Judaism teaches us to “Stay far away from falsehood” (Shemos 23:7).  The Torah did not find it sufficient to use the more common wording of “tishmor”, meaning, “guard yourself.”  When it comes to falsehood (sheker), we must steer clear of anything related to it as this trait is regarded as something repulsive.  When a person speaks words of sheker he violates this positive commandment even if he only includes some falsehood in a true report and even if the words are literally true but their implication is false.

Sheker includes saying things that can be construed in two different ways, when our intention is to mislead others into believing the false interpretation of our words.  The only time this may be permissible is in a case where we are allowed to bend the truth for the sake of peace.  Similarly, if we say things that are true but deliberately omit crucial details so that the report will be interpreted falsely, this too is considered to be sheker even though the words we uttered were absolutely correct.

(Excerpts from The Code of Jewish Conduct by Rabbi Yitzchok Silver)

Story(based on a true story)

As usual I was in a rush to get the kids to school and had no time for their petty arguments.  “Get in the car!  Let’s go already!” I exclaimed, trying to buckle the little ones into their car seats.

As I navigated through the neighborhood picking up all the rest of the children on our carpool route, I heard my phone ring.  “Hi Sarah!  I should be there in a few minutes.  I just need to drop the kids off and then I’ll pick you up.”  She asked me another question and before I knew it we were in a longer conversation.  Unbeknownst to me, there was a police officer watching me from behind with flashing lights.

“Uh-oh!” I said to the kids in the car.  “It looks like I may be in trouble.”  Before I knew it, I was summoned to pull over to the side of the road for speeding and the officer asked if I had been using a hand-held cell phone.  Sensing that the officer hadn’t noticed that I was, I told him that I had a phone but put it down.  Now this was literally the truth because I put it down when I saw the flashing lights, but I knew that wasn’t really true.  I was guilty and should have admitted it then, especially in front of a car full of children.  The officer took my word for it, gave me a ticket for speeding and I was on my way to school with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

The next day, I was washing dishes when my children ran into the house asking if they could buy ices from our next-door neighbors.  I told them if they cleaned up all the toys in the family room, I’d give them money to buy ices.  Twenty minutes later, I saw my little son crying outside.  After asking him why he was upset, he said that one of my older daughters had promised him some candy if he’d clean the family room.  He worked so hard and when he was finally finished, he told my daughter that he was done and asked for the candy.  My daughter told him that she was kidding and she didn’t really have any candy but when she got some, she would be sure to give him a piece.  I was disgusted with my daughter.  How could she be so callous, and deceitful to a little boy?  How could she mislead him and lie like that?  At that moment, I knew how.  I remembered the day before as it came rushing through my head.  Hadn’t I just done something very similar?  Hadn’t I lied because I was too afraid to deal with the truth and own up to the consequences of my actions?

I realized that, while I never intentionally do anything malicious, I am guilty of bending the truth to avoid strife or discomfort.  After witnessing my own child lying, I committed to reassess my reaction to uncomfortable situations.  I want to focus on being an honest person and I trust that it will affect my family and all of my relationships positively.


Discussion Questions:

In what ways are people deceptive because they want to escape blame or don’t want to keep a commitment?

Is it dishonest to give others the impression that you’re something you really aren’t?  How do people do this?

When are people not deceptive when they really should be?


Stretch of the Week:

Pay close attention to your words to ensure that you aren’t “stretching the truth” out of laziness or convenience.  One night this week, think about your day to assess how you did.


Stretch Of The Week