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When a Lie Is Not a Sin

The Hebrew Bible's Framework for Deciding

Rabbi Dennis S. Ross

6 x 9, 176 pp, Quality Paperback, 978-1-58023-858-8

Click here to download a free Discussion Guide.

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The difference between truth and falsehood is often clear and simple. But when life gets complicated, the Hebrew Bible can help.

The Hebrew Bible is true and wants us to tell the truth, even as biblical characters behave in less than truthful ways. What’s more, where some of the lies people tell in the Hebrew Bible stories are punished, others are ignored and still others are rewarded. The Hebrew Bible’s mixed-message of “Do as I say, not as they do” shows that lies—little and big, whether told to protect or advance oneself or when intended to preserve the peace—often occur under involved circumstances and demand careful consideration. By viewing an array of situations in light of the Hebrew Bible—from the routine but delicate to the once-in-a-lifetime dilemma—this book will make a difference in how you think and live.

This candid look at religion and truthfulness is ideal for anyone interested in exploring the religious basis for personal decision making, conscience and morality, including Jews of all denominations personally or in Torah study groups, Christians and social justice activists.

“A treasure chest of insights into our often complicated moral circumstances and piercing questions which force us to think about what we say and do. A must-read for readers of all faiths.”

Dr. Norman J. Cohen, author, Masking and Unmasking Ourselves: Interpreting Biblical Texts on
Clothing and Identity

“Masterfully weaves biblical and historical storytelling with guidance in making everyday decisions…. Offers us hope in forgiving our human frailties and exalting the Divine.”

Ruth Sharon, LPC, relationship coach; co-author, Secrets of a Soulful Marriage: Creating and Sustaining a Loving, Sacred Relationship

“Navigating life requires both firm principles and supple flexibility, and the wisdom to know how to live with both. Rabbi Ross provides us that wisdom…. I look forward to teaching this wise book.”

Rabbi Edward Feinstein, author, Tough Questions Jews Ask and The Chutzpah Imperative: Empowering Today’s Jews for a Life That Matters

“Dives into the real world and its multiple and manifest complexities. Rabbi Ross makes a clear path through our own twistedness and that all around us. You will find relief as well as personal clarification reading this book.”

Rev. Donna Schaper, author, Living Well While Doing Good

“Provides insight about the nature of lying…. The author is careful not to portray lying as a way of life, but describes the criteria and kinds of situations where it serves a useful purpose.”

Michael Spangle, PhD, co-author, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Ourselves: Understanding and Healing Our Emotional Wounds

“Judaism is a civilization built on nuance and complexity, and our understanding of it must be nuanced and complex as well. [This book] helps us on both counts. It should be read and, more importantly, pondered.”

Rabbi Rami Shapiro, translator and annotator, Ethics of the Sages—Pirke Avot: Annotated & Explained; author, The Golden Rule and the Games People Play: The Ultimate Strategy for a Meaning-Filled Life

“From Abraham’s Genesis to Colbert’s truthiness, Rabbi Dennis Ross considers when a lie is not a sin with nuance and wisdom…. Whether you are an individual reader curled up at home or part of a reading group or Torah study community, this book will make you think hard and grow. Truly a gem.”

Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, author, The Genesis of Ethics and Sage Tales: Wisdom and Wonder from the Rabbis of the Talmud

“An excellent and thoughtful guide drawing on Hebrew scripture to help us understand how to balance integrity and common sense.”

Pastor Don Mackenzie, co-author, Religion Gone Astray: What We Found at the Heart of Interfaith


Related Item(s)
Code Name Image
978-1-58023-790-1 God Who Hates Lies
978-1-58023-839-7 Masking and Unmasking Ourselves
978-1-59473-207-2 Ethics of the Sages: Pirke Avot—Annotated & Explained
978-1-58023-835-9 Jewish Ethical Values
978-1-58023-792-5 Chutzpah Imperative
978-1-58023-827-4 Ethical Wills & How To Prepare Them
978-1-59473-311-6 Maimonides—Essential Teachings on Jewish Faith and Ethics
978-1-59473-255-3 How to Do Good and Avoid Evil: A Global Ethic from the Sources of Judaism


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