A hallmark of greatness is the willingness to speak the truth- even when it is unpopular, even when it is dangerous. Yosef provides us with a model. At the beginning of the parsha he speaks the truth of his dreams even though it is met with scorn by both his brothers and his father. He speaks the truth to the Wife of Potiphar even as it causes him to lose everything he had and end up in jail, Finally at the end of the Parsha, Yosef’s truth speaking is recognized by his fellow prisoners and declared to be Tov, good: not just now, but all along.
Another speaker of truth is Yehuda. There’s a Tosefta in Brachot in which Rabbi Akiva asks: By what merit did Yehuda become the tribe of the monarchy, Jewish leadership? One answer suggested is “Mipnei Shehodeh B’Tamar.” He admitted the truth of his mistake even though such an admission could have been very costly. Telling the truth can be impressive; and even ameliorate mistakes. The United States Congress has impeached two Presidents in our country’s history. And according to many historians, neither one would have been impeached had there been the courage to speak the truth, even after the mistake.
Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes the truth is inconvenient. Sometimes the truth is depressing. Nevertheless we must learn from the model of our forefathers, especially from Yosef and Yehuda- and be willing to speak the truth- in our homes, our communities, and to the world. Today the cause that requires truth is the Jewish claim to Jerusalem.
As I write this there is discussion about the possible passage of a lopsided, unhelpful, a-historic and dangerous resolution at the UN concerning Jerusalem. American Zionists need to speak the truth about Jerusalem: it is Judaism’s holiest city, the Jewish claim to Jerusalem begins over 3000 years ago- way before 1967, and Jerusalem under the sovereignty of the State of Israel is the most open, tolerant and accessible that the city has ever been in recent history.
It may challenge the conventional wisdom and may upset those who who continue to believe in the dogmas of the (failed) peace process as has been implemented thus far. But let us learn from Yosef and speak the truth: Jerusalem has and will always be at the heart and soul of the Jewish people.