June 10, 2014

60 Days of Growth – Lie (Day 42)

imageWhoa! What is going on here? Didn’t I write, just yesterday, about being honest, and now I am telling all of you to lie as a way of connecting to your Jewish Heritage? What’s the deal with that?!

Well, you see, there are some conditions on the lying that I am talking about. As we have discussed in the past, Judaism is all about improving the world and bringing peace into the world. In fact, one of the “names of God mentioned in the holy books by our prophets is “Shalom” which means peace. Truth is a means to this end. But, what happens when it isn’t? What happens when telling the truth will lead to conflict, pain and fighting? What is a Jew to do with this conflict of values?

In the Torah, there is a story about a husband and wife, Abraham and Sarah. When they had hit their 90s, they still hadn’t had children and God sent a messenger to tell them that, although they were old, they would have a child, Isaac. When Sarah heard the news that she was going to have a child in her old age, she laughed and said, “אַחֲרֵי בְלֹתִי הָיְתָה-לִּי עֶדְנָה, וַאדֹנִי זָקֵן – I am old, I can’t have children and, Abraham, my husband is also old.” However, when God relates the story to Abraham, he leaves out a crucial detail, he says, “לָמָּה זֶּה צָחֲקָה שָׂרָה לֵאמֹר, הַאַף אֻמְנָם אֵלֵד–וַאֲנִי זָקַנְתִּי – Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘I can’t have a child, I am old!’?” Why does God neglect to tell Abraham the whole story? Because, leaving out this detail would preserve the marital harmony of Abraham and Sarah and that is the end goal of everything we do, peace.

So, our ancient sages teach us, if God can leave out details to preserve peace, we may lie to preserve peace. I am not encouraging everyone to go out and starting fibbing up a storm, what I am saying is don’t be too righteous that you forget about the end goal. Don’t be such a “good person” that you always tell the truth, even if it means hurting someone else.

Today’s Jewish mission is preserve the peace. Don’t try to be such a “good person” that you forget what the point of being a good person is, bringing peace into this world!