Tell the people of Isra’el, ‘When a man or woman commits any kind of sin against another person and thus breaks faith with ADONAI he incurs guilt. He must confess the sin which he has committed . . . (Numbers 5:6–7)
When truth encounters the data of our lives, it gives rise to confession.
The truth can hurt sometimes, a lot. In fact, Moses’ words to the Jewish people in parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech contain some of the most difficult truths. For one, the people are told that they will fall short of the Torah, and that this will eventually lead to terrible misfortune. We might try to avoid this painful truth by assuming that Moses’ words only applied to the people he was speaking to at the time.
Preparing to teach or preach Scripture is hard work and Rabbi Leffin’s maxim doesn’t make it any easier: “Do not allow anything to pass your lips that you are not certain is completely true.” This saying applies to everyone, but if we have to watch out for what passes our lips in general, how much more watchful must we be when we’re handling the Word of God? That’s why Ya’akov instructs us, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, since you know that we will be judged more severely”. --James 3:1 CJB
The Torah and the teachings of the rabbis give us all the guidance we need, but to follow the path that lies before us still calls for a discerning heart. This is the ultimate instrument for recognizing what is true and for guiding our speech and actions. It’s the heart that calls you to go looking for guidance from tradition when that’s available. And it is the wise heart that will show the way in the myriad situations for which there are no black-and-white answers. -- Alan Morinis, Everyday Holiness, pg. 171
Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. --Hebrews 13:18
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov taught his students to turn his teachings into prayers. Rabbi Natan (his foremost student) wrote down many prayers corresponding to the various lessons in Likutey MoHaRaN. The following is an excerpt from one of those prayers (based on lesson nine in the above mentioned volume):
“Help me to say my prayers with complete honesty and truthfulness, so that the light of the Truth will shine upon me, and I will be able to emerge from the…strange thoughts…that constantly surround me…Especially when I am praying, I feel surrounded on every side…My only hope of finding a way to escape is by talking to you truthfully…You are ‘close to all who call to you in truth.’”
-Likutey Tefilot, pgs. 187-188
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” — John 14:6
How do we square the words of Rabbi Lefin—“Do not allow anything to pass your lips that you are not certain is completely true”—with the question most dreaded by every husband or boyfriend—“Does this dress make me look fat?”
Truth is one of those intangible concepts that are difficult to define. When Yeshua said he bore witness of the truth, Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” It’s a good question. We live in a world where truth is so subjective, that the idea of it becomes almost meaningless.
Most of us hold to some basic truths we were raised with. Family roles are a good example of this. In the classic musical, “Fiddler on the Roof,” the song “Tradition” spelled out marital roles more specifically. “Who, day and night, must scramble for a living, feed a wife and children, say his daily prayers? And who has the right, as master of the house, to have the final word at home? The Papa, the Papa! “
The Hebrew word for “true”, emet, occurs six times in the concluding portion of the Shema section of shacharit. In fact, it is the first word spoken after the third paragraph of the Shema (Numbers 15). The central placement of the word in the concluding portion of the Shema gives us a glimpse into our sages’ deepest values about our relationship with God. While there is no doubt that truth is embedded in all of the davening, the Shema itself is a very specific kind of statement about God and our relationship with him. The Truth expressed in the words of the Shema must be reiterated so as to embed its message into the mind and heart of the one davening.
The elder to the chosen lady and to her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I but also all who have known the truth, and through the truth residing in us and which will be with us in the aeons. Grace, mercy, peace from God the Father and from Yeshua the Mashiach, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. I was overjoyed that I found some of your children walking the truth, just as the commandment was received from the Father. --Yohanan Beta, 1:1-4,