The rabbi wound up the services one morning by saying, "Next week I am going to preach on the subject of honesty and truthfulness. And in this connection, as a preparation for my discourse, I would like you all to read the fifty-first chapter of Genesis."

The following week, the rabbi rose to begin and said, "Now, then, all of you who have done as I requested and read the fifty-first chapter of Genesis, please raise your hands."

Nearly every hand in the congregation went up.

Then said the rabbi, "You are the people I want to talk to. There is no fifty-first chapter in Genesis..."

A familiar story? How often do we find ourselves in similar situations? At such times, we often convince ourselves that we are not really lying, it is not so bad, it is almost true. We find that the "whole truth" is a valuable commodity and one which it is not always so easy to come by.

In this week's Torah reading, the spies are sent to the land of Israel, then Canaan, to spy out the land. They came back with falsified reports. They began, however, by telling the people that "We came to the land where you did send us, and indeed it flows with milk and honey..."

The Talmud comments that "Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Meir: Any piece of slander which does not have some truth in the beginning, will not endure in the end." Every lie has a little truth mixed into it. Unfortunately, all too often, the truth has a little falsehood mixed into it too.

Pursuit of truth is a recurring theme in Jewish tradition. The Torah is frequently referred to as the Torah of truth and the discernment of truth is seen as an essential requirement for navigating our way through life.