Honesty: The Best Policy


Shalom, a friend asked me, “What does it take to be a good Jew?” I told her I’d ask you since it seems like a good question. Thank you for your time and kindness.



  1. It is a very good question! There are very many character traits and normal behavior that define a person as a “good Jew”. A few examples: belief in God, treating one’s fellow man favorably and giving charity to the needy.
    However, I think there is one important underlying character trait is essential for a “good Jew” to possess. This can be seen in a story that is told about Rabbi Teitelbaum, the founder of the Satmar Chassidim.

    A thief “with a conscience” once came to see him. The thief said that his negative traits were so deeply ingrained in him that he felt that he could not succeed in changing his lifestyle. The wise Satmar Rabbi told him, “In whatever you do, always be truthful. This will guide you to full righteousness and repentance.”

    The robber listened to the words of the Rabbi. Soon afterwards, when he was on the way to break in to someone’s home, a stranger passed by and asked him where he was going. His first reflex was to lie but he remembered the advice given to him by the rabbi. He said, “I’m going to So-and-So’s house to break in and steal something.” As he said this he found that he was too embarrassed to carry out the robbery. And sure enough, little by little, being truthful helped him to make a complete positive overhaul of himself.

    I think this story helps answer your question. A person who wants to be a “good Jew” should be careful to try to keep far away from any falsehood.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team