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Beit Midrash Jewish Laws and Thoughts Personality Development

Truth

Everybody knows that falsehood, by its very nature, is fleeting; it has no enduring substance. Hence the sages teach: “Truth endures, falsehood does not” (Shabbat 104b). In the end, the truth alone will emerge victorious.
Dedicated to the memory of
Mishael mahlof Ben Ester
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He who accustoms himself to being honest and measures all of his deeds and actions in accordance with the yardstick of truth and the scale of justice - he knows true happiness. Such a person is forever at peace with his conscience. He is not plagued by inner struggle or a clash between his actions and his conscience.

By nature, two opposing forces are at play within man - forces of good and evil, truth and falsehood, integrity and intrigue, etc. Our sages refer to these forces as the "good" and "evil inclinations."

In order to become truly worthy of the title "man of truth," a person must first labor painstakingly for many years. The reason for this is that, generally, it is easier to lie than to tell the truth, especially if lying will allow one to attain his goal. The temptation of attaining a desired end can be blinding. It can cause a person to ignore the question of whether or not it is even worth all the trouble of lying and planning evil design and intrigues in order to achieve his goal. After all, everybody knows that falsehood, by its very nature, is fleeting; it has no enduring substance. Hence the sages teach: "Truth endures, falsehood does not" (Shabbat 104b). In the end, the truth will emerge. The liar will experience shame and disgrace, and regret will gnaw at his heart unremittingly. The only exception to this rule is that of the "professional liar." Such a person fails to feel even the slighted shame, for nothing matters to him. Such a person loses out in the end, because everybody recognizes him for what he is and all take heed. People cease to trust him, and, in the words of the sages, "Such is the punishment of a liar: even when he tells the truth he is not believed" (Sanhedrin 89b).

A man of truth, on the other hand, often faces serious difficulties from which he is unable to escape. He is often unable to prove his honesty and unable to attain his goal in a true and acceptable manner. This results from his being a member of an intrigue-plagued and hypocritical society. People’s confused state and deviant ways cause them to consider themselves wise and clever when in fact they are foolish and naive, ignorant or overly confident, etc. Such people therefore conclude that the man of truth has no place among them in their prestigious and advanced company - a society free from the reins of honesty or pertinent discretion. The only thing that interests them is their own good. It does not matter which path they follow; all means are permissible for the sake of attaining the goal - in the words of the common (yet untrue) adage: "The end justifies the means."

Such a person in such company resembles a solitary tree in the forest. He will always find himself alone in the battle, no matter how just his cause might be, for his voice is like a lone voice that cries out in the wilderness.

He knows very well that he is correct and that falsehood and deception are what turn the dark into light and the bitter into sweet. This fact causes him distress and sometimes even affects his mental state. But, he can always comfort himself with the knowledge that he is acting according to his conscience and that he does not submit to accepted falsehoods. He is independent, at peace with himself, and true to the lines of integrity which he has laid down for himself, and these are the lines which direct him in all of his endeavors.

Some people consider themselves wise and intelligent because they succeed in getting ahead in life due to their cunning or trickery. They consider the upright to be backward and unsuccessful because they do not know how to keep pace with the times. It should be known, however, that the truly valuable things in life are to be found neither in public squares nor in the possession of all. For example, only a small number of wealthy people are privileged enough to possess pearls and onyx stones. Sticks and stones, on the other hand, are extremely common; and pots, bowls, and silverware can be found in the most meager of households.

The trait of honesty is more valuable than gold and pearls. It is therefore only to be found in the possession of a few unique individuals who appreciate its worth and are aware of the amount of effort needed in order to attain it.

Rabbi Mishael Dahan, ztvk”l
Chief rabbi of Be'er Sheva since its foundation until he passed away over fifty years, he was an Av Beit Din in the city.
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