Parshat Yitro: Second Impulse

2.05 Parshat Yitro: Second Impulse

Written by cheri

A friend asks you to lie on her behalf. She’s going to tell her parents she will stay the night with you, but will really be elsewhere. Do you acquiesce?

A close friend calls you in a panic. He’s afraid the police are going to charge him with a crime he didn’t commit, but for which he has no alibi. He asks you to tell them he was with you. What do you do?

This week, we are introduced (yet again) to the “10 Commandments.” Is there a commandment that gives guidance to how we should respond to these scenarios?

Yes, the 9th commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Alshekh (16th century) understands this to mean “you shall not testify falsely on behalf of your neighbor,” even to be the alibi for an honest friend.

Our friends sometimes put us in difficult situations, asking us to prove our friendship by behaving dishonestly. Our first impulse might be to help our friends.

The Torah tells us that our second impulse must be to do the right thing.

Rabbi David Vorspan, Rabbi-in-Residance

Rabbi David Vorspan

Rabbi David Vorspan