middot responsibility mesorah from invisible to visible

from invisible to visible

Written by  rebbetzin malkah

art-visibletruckR. Simon said: When the Holy One, blessed be He, came to create Adam, the ministering angels formed themselves into groups and parties, some of them saying, Let him be created, whilst others urged, let him not be created. Thus it is written, Love and Truth fought together, Righteousness and Peace combated each other (Ps.85, 11). Love said, 'Let him be created, because he will dispense acts of love'; Truth said, 'Let him not be created, because he is compounded of falsehood'; Righteousness said, 'Let him be created, because he will perform righteous deeds'; Peace said, 'Let him not be created, because he is full of strife'. What did the Lord do? He took Truth and cast it to the ground!  -- Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 8:5

Angels fighting?  Ditch project-man?  Truth being expelled?  What to think?  If there is one component that we know causes the most strife here on this earth is everyone's idea of what they think truth is.  It has caused countless wars, hatred to be manifest, and communities to separate.  While the quest for truth will always endure, the midrash makes a point that out of all four angels, Truth could not reign supreme in decision-making or be the one to prevail.

try and test your truth

The other three angels who are represented as Love, Righteousness, and Peace, are important in our daily lives.  Through acts of loving-kindness, we can uphold and encourage one another.  When righteousness is performed, it makes the spirit of Hashem manifest through the world in corners that might not otherwise know of Him.  When we perform acts of peace, we bring humanity together and minimize the divide. 

Now what about truth?  While cast from heaven, Truth was not all together shunned; it was put on earth and it is said "from earth truth shall sprout."  But only shall it sprout in the midst of loving-kindness, righteousness and peace.  This is the only way truth has a chance.  Otherwise it can be a vindicating, judging, and destructive force.

He [Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa] used to say: "He whose works exceed his wisdom, his wisdom endures; but he whose wisdom exceeds his works, his wisdom will not endure." -- Avot 3:12

Responsibility comes into play here heavily as we examine this quote.  While we study, toil in widsom, seek truth, it is only in our works that our wisdom (truth) will endure.  By playing out what we have learned, what we have gleaned from the truth we study, only then can it take hold in our lives, in our minds, and in the lives and minds of those around us.  Otherwise, we  risk being the bearers of just ethereal thoughts and concepts— lofty, high and beyond the reach of all (including ourselves). 

This is an important principle for those who love to devour information and make study a habit. If we study just for the sake of studying and fail to put that knowledge into practical everyday living, we bear no fruit and that which we have is nothing.  The key to life is doing good deeds and not setting the goal of just becoming 'wise.'  We have the responsibility to temper ourselves by putting into action that which we have gained intellectually.  Only then can truth sprout up from the earth and we can endure in our wisdom.  Study well, but most of all, be responsible with your wisdom and let your works precede you: make the invisible visible.

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