Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Shoftim) Ain't That the Truth!
Honesty and integrity are essential to our existence and ability to coexist. Even where the ideals of honesty take a back seat, such as news media outlets which report biasedly and inaccurately on events, if someone is caught lying, they capitalize on the offence. So too, in our courts of law, lying under oath is a criminal offence of perjury.
From where do the ideals of Emes - truth - emanate?
The Talmud relates that the signature of G-d is Emes - truth! Whatever G-d does, commands, or rules is Emes. We attest to this in the blessing we recite on the Torah scroll where we mention that the Torah G-d gave us is Emes - the Source of Truth.
The Torah commands us to be extremely mindful to relate the truth and that we distance ourselves from falsehood and from those who utter mistruths.
In this week's Parsha the Torah speaks of other laws that are included in the concept of Emes, such as judging others fairly and not taking bribes. The Torah also warns us not to listen to false prophets who wish to influence people to worship idols.
False prophets can come in many forms:
I attended a speech given by a successful person, who during his challenging adolescent years was told by his teacher that he would never succeed in life.
Eventually, a wonderful Rabbi, Rabbi Murray Masalton o.b.m. embraced him, cared for him and helped raise him from the gutter life he was living.
He eventually turned his life around and got married, raised a beautiful family and became a successful businessman and a pillar of his community.
I remember how he emotionally and painfully referred to the teacher who wrote him off as a "Navi Sheker - a false prophet!"
We often mention in our prayers the special ideals of Emes - truth.
During the preliminary morning prayers of song, we recite a verse from King David's Psalms, "G-d is close to all who call out to Him, to all those who call to Him in truth."
Rabbi Matisyahu Solomon points out a blatant question on this verse: "If someone is calling out to G-d, doesn't that indicate that he is calling out truthfully? What did King David mean when he added that G-d is close to those who call out in truth?"
Rabbi Solomon explains that of course when we pray we are calling out to G-d sincerely and understand that He is the One who is listening and is all powerful. However, G-d wants us to be honest with ourselves when we present ourselves to Him.
At times one presents himself one way, but in essence he is actually different.
King David tells us that G-d is close to those who call out to Him in truth - which means that they present themselves before G-d totally honest about themselves regarding their weaknesses and imperfections and are not fooled by their own false presentation.
We are currently in the Hebrew month of Elul. The essence of this month is for us to prepare and perfect ourselves before our judgment on Rosh Hashana.
During my trip to Israel, I reconnected with a fine teenager who has been struggling with religion and direction in his life. During our conversation he expressed that he realizes he needs to become more proactive in getting his life back to normal.
When we discussed religion, a suggestion was made that on his own he decide to take upon himself just one thing - one Mitzvah - whether a big or small one. Through such a commitment he would feel a sense of spiritual accomplishment for he would be forging his own relationship with G-d without feeling forced by others.
This month is Elul and the acronym of Elul is "I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me," thus our relationship with G-d during this month is that of a beloved. Any small step we take towards forging a relationship with the Almighty is very endearing, just as the small nuances of thoughtfulness of a spouse goes a long way towards causing their relationship to develop and deepen.
Isn't that the truth!
Wishing you a most enjoyable & uplifting Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks