What is the truth?
Is there a single truth?
Does religion provide that truth?
Does the bible provide that truth?
How does one know what is the truth?
Does the truth matter?
So are these the same always telling the truth?
- Stay far away from falsehood. – Exodus 23:7
- Do not steal, do not deceive and do not lie to one another – Leviticus 19:11
- Teach your tongue to say, “I do not know,” lest you be led to a lie – Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 4a
- One should not promise to give a child something and then not give it to him, because as a result, the child will learn to lie – Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 46b
When is it appropriate to not tell the truth?
- Great is peace, seeing that for its sake even God modified the truth. – Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot 65b
- 3 angles come to visit Abraham and Sarah, who are 99 and 90 years old. They tell the patriarch that, within a year, his wife will give birth. Sarah, who is listening nearby, “laughed to herself, saying, ‘Now that I am withered, am I to have enjoyment, with me husband so old?’” In the next verse, God says to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “Shall I in truth bear a child, old as I am?’” – Genesis 18:12-13 (Telushkin pg 59)
- Our Rabbis taught: How does one dance [and what words does one say] before a bride? The School of Shammai says, “The bride [is described] as she is.” The School of Hillel says, “[Every bride is described as a] beautiful and graceful bride.” The School of Shammai said to the School of Hillel, “If she was lame or blind, does one say of her, ‘Beautiful and graceful bride’? Does not the Torah command, ‘Stay far away from falsehood’? (Exodus 23:7). But the School of Hillel answered the School of Shammai, “According to your words, if a person has made a bad purchase in the market, should one praise it to him or deprecate it? Surely one should praise it to him.” Therefor, the Tabbis teach, “Always should one’s disposition be pleasant with people.” – Babylonian Talmud, Ketubot 16b-17a
- When a man is about to die, we tell him to recite the viduii (confession of sins). We say to him, “Many have said the confession and then not died, and many have not said the confession and died.” – Shulkhan Arukh, Yoreh Deah 338:1
- A half-truth is a whole lie.
- Truth never dies but it lives a wretched life.
Talebearing – what if it is the truth?
- Do not go about as a talebearer among your people. – Leviticus 19:16
- The gossiper stands in Syria and kills in Rome – Palestinian Talmud, Peah 1:1
- Don’t speak well of your friend, for although you will start with his good traits, the discussion might turn to his bad traits. –Babylonian Talmud, Bava Bathra 164b
- Perhaps the least observed of the Torah’s 613 commandments, this law posits that it is forbidden to say something negative about another person, even if it is true, unless the person to whom you are speaking vitally needs the information (e.g. he or she is considering marrying, hiring, or going into business with the person about whom you are speaking). In Hebrew, such speech is known as “lashon hara” (literally, evil tongue). Jewish law also forbids slander, in Hebrew “motzi shem ra” (giving someone a bad name). – Telushikin, Jewish Wisdom pg 65
Leave you with Isaiah and his 6 principles – Isaiah 33:15-16
- He who walks in righteousness
- Who speaks honestly
- Who spurns profit form fraudulent dealings
- Who waves away a bribe instead of taking it
- Who closes his ears and doesn’t listen to malicious words
- Who shuts his eyes against looking at evil
Quotes from Joseph Telushkin’s Jewish Wisdom
Honesty refers to a facet of moral character and denotes positive, virtuous attributes such as integrity, truthfulness, and straightforwardness along with the absence of lying, cheating, or theft.
Truth can have a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with a particular fact or reality, or being in accord with the body of real things, real events or actualities. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common archaic usage it also meant constancy or sincerity in action or character. (Wikipedia lists 9 types of truth)
A lie (also called prevarication, falsehood) is a known untruth expressed as truth. A lie is a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement, especially with the intention to deceive others, often with the further intention to maintain a secret or reputation, protect someone’s feelings or to avoid a punishment or repercussion for one’s actions. To lie is to state something that one knows to be false or that one does not honestly believe to be true with the intention that a person will take it for the truth. A liar is a person who is lying, who has previously lied, or who tends by nature to lie repeatedly – even when not necessary. (Wikipedia lists 21 types of lying)
Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods. –Albert Einstein