Priceless Integrity

Priceless Integrity

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

The word “priceless” immediately conjures up a number of images: Rembrandt’s paintings, the Hope diamond, and Ming vases, among others. Most people do not associate “priceless” with value systems, however the Gemara speaks of an exceptional individual named Rav Tovyomi who would never tell a lie even if he was offered “all of the world’s treasures” to do so. For Rav Tovyomi, integrity was a priceless commodity.

In order to strive to attain the exalted level of Rav Tovyomi, we must first define integrity. Children everywhere are reared on the virtues of telling the truth. In most instances “the truth” is conveyed as a direct repetition of the facts, allowing for no deviation whatsoever. As children mature, they come to the realization that it is impossible to live in accordance with this definition of truth. Often enough, they are expected to say the opposite of what they feel, to compliment things they think deserve criticism, and to act courteously to people they do not like. Compounding the intrinsic difficulty of functioning on a totally truthful level, they see that almost no one lives according to this principle. In a recent poll of 40,000 Americans, 93% admitted that they lie regularly. Integrity is quickly discarded as an ideal that no longer applies to our generation.

The purpose of this class is to kindle a desire in readers to investigate the beautiful, yet intricate, nature of integrity.

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