this Shabbat, we read the Parshiyot Acharei Mot – Kedoshim.
The Parshiyot begin with a reference to the mysterious deaths of
Aharon’s sons Nadav and Aviyahu. Many explanations are offered by CHAZA”L as to why they
were killed, but to the survivor, Aharon and his wife Elisheva (whose
overwhelming grief must be read between the lines of the Torah’s
narrative), the only appropriate response was silence, as we read in VaYikra
10:3, VaYidom Aharon “And Aharon remained silent.”
of Nissan has been established as Yom HaShoah, the Day of
Commemoration of the Holocaust, that monumental tragedy in which a horrific
wound was suffered by our People. All
subsequent time can be described as Acharei Mot Kedoshim, after the
death of the Kedoshim, the Martyrs.
Here too, many explanations have been offered as to the “cause”
of the Holocaust, but for the survivors, all such explanations are
inadequate, and silence is the only appropriate response.
April 15th, there was held in Washington an enormous rally in
support of Eretz Yisrael, in its present conflict with Yishmael.
In the New York Times, as well as several other publications, there
was generous coverage of the event, that drew more than 100,000 supporters
of Israel to the Capitol.
another feature, the Times described the reportage of the satellite news
network Al Jazeera, that provides television coverage in Arabic of the
situation in the Middle East throughout the Arab world.
Some excerpts: “On both private satellite channels and state-run national
networks, the plight of the Palestinians – portrayed as the victims of
barbaric Israeli aggression – has saturated the news...” “There is a constant flow of information now, all from the
same perspective...” “The
enmity between the Arabs and the Israelis has been there, but before, an
Israeli was imagined in Cairo like someone on the moon – inaccessible,
unseeable,” a leading Egyptian intellectual, Muhammad Sid Ahmed, said in
an interview; “Now, the hatred is closer.”
Nazis taught the world the propaganda technique of the “Big Lie.”
It appears that the Arabs are attempting to introduce a new
technique: the “Gigantic Lie.”
is the attitude of Judaism towards Truth?
Is it just a desirable option, or is it, indeed, a more fundamental
requirement, overriding all other requirements?
context of rules for Judges, the Torah says in Shemot 23:7, “Stay far
away from a lie.” But
this injunction can be understood in two ways:
untruth is so offensive in Judaism that one should certainly never utter
one; but not only that, one should in addition go out of his way to avoid
all situations where the temptation to lie might arise.
untruth is certainly very offensive in Judaism. However, there are values that override even the requirement
to adhere to the Truth. Thus,
“not to lie” is not an absolute prohibition.
Talmud in Bava Metzia 23b-24a seems to subscribe to the second opinion.
“Samuel said, ‘In the following three areas, the Sages would not
adhere strictly to the Truth...” The Talmud then lists the three areas; RASHI and Tosafot
explain their meaning:
“In the area of knowledge of a Tractate of the Talmud” – RASHI
explains, “If one is asked whether or not he is an expert in a particular
Tractate of the Talmud, the requirement of humility permits him to
deny such knowledge even if he possesses it.
“In the area of discussion of sexual matters” – RASHI explains,
“If one is asked whether he’d had sexual intercourse with his wife, the
requirement of modesty permits him to say ‘No,’ even if the Truth
is otherwise.” Tosafos says
that it would be unlikely that a person would be asked a question that
intrudes to that degree into one’s private affairs.
An alternate explanation is offered that if a person is queried as to
the reason for his absence from the House of Study, and the reason in fact
is that he’d had a seminal emission, modesty permits him the mild
prevarication that he was sick, etc.
“In the area of discussion of hospitality” – RASHI explains
that if one of the Sages had visited a certain individual, then in certain
groups, in order to protect the income of his host, he may downplay
the quality of the hospitality that he received, in order that the host not
be besieged by visitors.
know that Aharon HaKohen is praised for establishing Shalom Bayit,
Peace within the Family, between husbands and wives and between feuding
friends, by telling each party that the other had sought forgiveness, even
if that wasn’t, strictly speaking, true.
In this case, the “ends justify the means.”
seems that Truth is indeed a great ideal in Judaism.
But other ideals, such as humility, modesty, concern for the
financial security of others, and peace in the home and between friends are
at times even greater ideals.
Rabbi Pinchas Frankel