Friday, 13 July 2018

Truth Protested That Man Should Not Be Created

In today's "Random Torah" we take a look at truth. The Mishnah elsewhere (Pirkei Avot 1:18) tells us that Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel taught that the world exists on three things - justice, truth and peace. For a world to exist harmoniously these three qualities are essential ingredients. The Midrash offers us an even more powerful story to highlight the value of Truth.

אָמַר רַבִּי סִימוֹן, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁבָּא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לִבְרֹאת אֶת אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן, נַעֲשׂוּ מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת כִּתִּים כִּתִּים, וַחֲבוּרוֹת חֲבוּרוֹת, מֵהֶם אוֹמְרִים אַל יִבָּרֵא, וּמֵהֶם אוֹמְרִים יִבָּרֵא, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (תהלים פה, יא): חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת נִפְגָּשׁוּ צֶדֶק וְשָׁלוֹם נָשָׁקוּ. חֶסֶד אוֹמֵר יִבָּרֵא, שֶׁהוּא גּוֹמֵל חֲסָדִים. וֶאֱמֶת אוֹמֵר אַל יִבָּרֵא, שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ שְׁקָרִים. צֶדֶק אוֹמֵר יִבָּרֵא, שֶׁהוּא עוֹשֶׂה צְדָקוֹת. שָׁלוֹם אוֹמֵר אַל יִבָּרֵא, דְּכוּלֵיהּ קְטָטָה. מֶה עָשָׂה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא נָטַל אֱמֶת וְהִשְׁלִיכוֹ לָאָרֶץ, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (דניאל ח, יב): וְתַשְׁלֵךְ אֱמֶת אַרְצָה, אָמְרוּ מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים מָה אַתָּה מְבַזֶּה תַּכְסִיס אַלְטִיכְסְיָה שֶׁלָּךְ, תַּעֲלֶה אֱמֶת מִן הָאָרֶץ, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (תהלים פה, יב): אֱמֶת מֵאֶרֶץ תִּצְמָח. רַבָּנָן אָמְרֵי לָהּ בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי חֲנִינָא בַּר אִידֵי וְרַבִּי פִּינְחָס וְרַבִּי חֶלְקִיָּה בְּשֵׁם רַבִּי סִימוֹן אָמַר, מְאֹד, הוּא אָדָם. הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (בראשית א, לא): וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וְהִנֵּה טוֹב מְאֹד, וְהִנֵּה טוֹב אָדָם. רַב הוּנָא רַבָּהּ שֶׁל צִפּוֹרִין אֲמַר עַד שֶׁמַּלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת מִדַּיְּנִין אֵלּוּ עִם אֵלּוּ וּמִתְעַסְּקִין אֵלּוּ עִם אֵלּוּ בְּרָאוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ 
הוּא. אָמַר לָהֶן מָה אַתֶּם מִדַּיְּנִין כְּבָר נַעֲשָׂה אָדָם.  

Rabbi Simon said: At the time when the Holy Blessed One came to create the first man, the ministering angels formed themselves into groups, some saying 'man should not be created' and some saying 'man should be created.' As it says: "Kindness and Truth met; Justice and Peace kissed" (Psalms 85:11). 

Kindness said: Man should be created because he does acts of kindness, and Truth said: Man should not be created, because he is all lies. Justice said: Man should be created because he does just-acts, and Peace said: Man should not be created because he is all quarrels. What did the Holy Blessed One do? God took Truth and threw him to the ground, as it says: "And Truth was thrown to the ground" (Daniel 8:12).

The ministering angels said before the Blessed Holy One: Master of the Universe: why are You disgracing the chief of your court ceremonies - bring Truth back from the ground! As it says: "Truth will grow from the ground" (Psalms 85:12). The rabbis say this [same teaching] in the name of Rabbi Chanina bar Yidey and Rabbi Pinchas and rabbi Chelkiah in the name of Rabbi Simon, who said: Much (מאד) [mem/alef/dalet] - this is Adam [alef/dalet/mem], since it is written (Gen. 1:31) 'And E-lohim saw all that He had done, and behold it was very/much good (טוב מאד) - and behold Adam [is] good (טוב). Rav Huna, the rabbi of Tziporin, said: and while the angels of service are disputing [who is right] which one another, the Holy One of Blessing created him. And He said to them: what are you disputing? Adam is already made.


Imagine the scenario for a moment. Man is about to be created - the outstanding being who will take over the running of this material world. The ingredients going into making him up are crucial because even missing one important part can spell for disaster. Imagine if we all found ourselves in this beautiful world lacking the ability to hear and see and walk and talk. We would be in the worst of prisons. Indeed some people live such lives. It is only with thanks to those who take care of them that they can live. It is a tragedy. It is nothing one wants, and it is everything to be grateful for when those of us who have our senses and organs working fine look at ourselves and realise we have the qualities and materials needed to live. We need every good quality - physical and spiritual - in order to live healthily and happily.

Truth - is no different. Truth is a quality in life which is so crucial that when Man was about to be created, Truth itself stood up with a complaint. "This Man," said Truth, "will not appreciate what I am." "This Man", said Truth, "will veer away from me, bringing disaster wherever he goes, saying things that should not be said, behaving in ways of falsehood and fooling all around himself... including himself."

The arguments for creating Man continued with some qualities trying their best to speak well of the Man who would be created. Kindness spoke well for Man - a lesson we can all learn from. Truth and Peace could not find themselves within Man. Apparently, he would leave them out from all of his life. Constant war, missiles, warnings of chemical destruction from one country to the next certainly highlight Man's motive in life, and it doesn't seem to include peace. As for their reasons in doing so, they are filled with lies - from one to the other. Each one making up excuses about the other's wrongful behaviour and therefore their entitlement to behave as they see fit - all in the name of peace of course, because surely all tell the truth. With the most honest of media reporters working hard for their money today - we can be certain that not a word of dishonesty is said, never a word that would spark a war or create a controversy.

But Truth and Peace saw through the veneer of the eyes of Man, wishing for him not to be created. It seems that God was well aware of what was to be, and while the arguments ensued with "war" itself taking place amongst the advocates for peace... God went ahead and did what He wished to, bringing Man into the world with the very problems these qualities had foreseen. But he was made. It was too late...

But it is never too late. The Midrash is here to teach a powerful lesson. It is to make us aware of our negative qualities which are somehow inbuilt into us. What can we do about it now? We must work harder to show up Peace and Truth that they were wrong. We must do everything we can, in our own private way, in the way of our relationships with others, and in our behaviour with the entire world to show that indeed, we are capable of being truthful. We are capable of peace. For it to happen though, it means a conscious effort in working on these attributes every moment of the day. It can be done. But it is up to each of us to do everything we can to bring peace and truth into our lives under every single circumstance.

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