Our world is results-oriented.  We are used to productivity as a measure of what’s good and right.  Whether it’s writing software that does what we want it to do or closing a business deal, our environment celebrates the ‘bottom line’ far more than it judges the methods used getting there.

The beginning of Shoftim, this week’s Torah portion, contains instructions for judicial proceedings.  We are commanded to “pursue justice justly”.  Not only are the judges enjoined to focus on a just outcome, but also the litigants themselves are reminded that their pursuit of justice must be done legitimately.  Justice cannot result if one party alters the facts the tiniest bit,  just to make his case simpler, even if he knows he is right.

Focusing on the bottom line and results is only part of the story.  We need to pursue what is good and right even in the methods we use to accomplish our goals.  A business transaction must be done with honesty.  If there’s something wrong with the house or car you’re selling, tell the buyer.  Maybe this particular buyer will back out, but someone else will come along who’ll appreciate your honesty and will be confident that now he knows exactly what to expect.  Moreover, he or she will be right!

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about valuing correct behavior.  A good end does not justify the wrong means.


  • Why does a court always require complete evidence even if it seems obvious who is at fault?
  • How do you feel when you purchase something that has been misrepresented?
  • Would you be likely to shop again in a store where the truth was not told?
  • How much would you trust a friend who often stretches the truth or misrepresents?

By Rabbi Moshe Becker

Values & Ethics—Through a Jewish Lens is created by Fred and Joyce Claar to bring the wisdom of Judaism into family discussions.