Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM FALSEHOOD Part 5

In the past few weeks we have defined the meaning of falsehood and discussed situations where it is permissible to lie1 . It still remains to be fully understood why speaking falsely in certain situations is not considered falsehood according to the Torah’s definition.

The Torah views ‘emet’ (truth) as achieving the morally desirable result in any given situation. Situations that are considered positive by the Torah constitute truth. For example, a state of affairs of peace and harmony is considered to be emet. In contrast, situations that are considered negative by the Torah constitute falsehood. For example, discord and hatred are representative of falsehood.

Consequently, it is permissible in certain circumstances to lie in order to maintain peaceful relations between people because a state of Shalom (peace) is emet. In contrast, if a person speaks brutally honestly and thereby causes friction between people he has in effect spoken falsehood. Even though his words were technically true, the result was not.

This also explains why it is permissible to lie in order to avoid causing pain to others. For example if someone has bought an item that he can no longer return and he asks his friend for his opinion of the purchase, the friend should not express his dislike for it because that would cause unnecessary pain. Lying and saying how nice it is would constitute emet in this instance. This is because the success of deceit is an expression of the success of falsehood.

This explanation enables us to attain a far deeper perspective truth. A person may feel that he must always say the truth even though by doing so he can cause considerable pain and discomfort to others. By doing so he is, in fact, speaking falsehood.

It is important to note that this principle does not mean that the ‘ends justify the means’. In this case the ‘means’ of lying is not considered negative at all if done with the correct intentions. However, it is very easy to convince oneself that it is justified to lie because of the ultimate results, when this may not in fact be the case.

As always, it is advisable to seek an Orthodox Rabbi who can guide us in specific cases.

1 It is important to note that a person should not develop a habit of lying, even in a permissible way. When we get into the habit of lying for valid reasons it is likely that we will develop a trait of dishonesty and that will lead to lying that is forbidden. Moreover, it is very important that one’s children not be exposed to constant lying because they will inevitably develop the trait of dishonesty.


Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen and Torah.org


 






ARTICLES ON SHOFTIM AND ELUL / ROSH HASHANAH:

View Complete List

The Sounds of the Shofar
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Command the King
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5760

Lessons from a Farewell Speech
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

ArtScroll

I Will Not Be Lazy - I Will Not Give Up
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

High Holidays & Sound Investments
Jon Erlbaum - 0

Time to Grow Up!
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Are We listening?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5762

Wake Up!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Express Yourself
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5758

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Protection For The Way
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

Roadsigns to Eternity
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5760

Month of Elul: The Power of Repentance
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5758

> Deceitful Prayer
Shlomo Katz - 5759

Matters of Dispute in Your Cities
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

The Fast of Gedalya
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5760

The Judgment
Shlomo Katz - 5759



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information