SEFER SEFAS TAMIM -- Chapter One:Deceit vs. Truthfulness (cont.)
King Shlomo said: “True
speech will be established forever, but a false tongue is only for a moment” (Mishlei
12:19). Shlomo cautions us to be truthful at all times and to carefully avoid falsehood.
When a person is truthful and is careful that his words are in consonance with emes
(truth), then his words will accomplish and will be everlasting. People will believe
what he has to say, for they know him as someone who always speaks the truth.
But when a person is known to speak falsehood, then his words will be reckoned
with for but a moment’s time. People may believe him at first, but when they examine
his words and seek to corroborate them, they will realize that they are false. Therefore,
Shlomo warns us that our words must be pure, unadulterated truth.
Words of truth accomplish and are everlasting
As a young man, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was informed that he was being considered
for the position of Rosh Yeshivah at Yeshivah Kol Torah in Jerusalem and
he was invited to deliver a shiur (Talmudic lecture) before the heads of
Not long after the shiur had commenced, Rabbi Yonah Mertzbach, one of
the founders of Kol Torah, interrupted with a question. After a few seconds of silence,
R’ Shlomo Zalman declared without hesitation, “Ta’isi (I’m mistaken).” He
then began a new topic which was the focus of the
remainder of his shiur. When he returned home
and his Rebbeztin asked how he had fared, R’ Shlomo Zalman replied, “Not so well.
The shiur had hardly begun when I admitted to a mistake. Actually, I had
three different answers to offer. But I felt that the question was closer to the
truth than any of my answers.”
R’ Shlomo Zalman was informed that he had been accepted for the position. Years
later, Rabbi Mertzbach told Rabbi Yehudah Addas, Rosh Yeshivah of Kol Yaakov,
“Do you know why R’ Shlomo Zalman was appointed to his position? When I asked him
that question and he responded, ‘I’m mistaken,’ it was clear to me that with such
a level of emes (truth), he should be our Rosh Yeshivah!”
It was not often that R’ Shlomo Zalman retracted an explanation in favor of a
student’s opinion. But on those rare occasions that he found the student’s reasoning
superior to his own, he admitted this joyfully and without hesitation.
He once told a student, “I suspect that in the World to Come, I will not receive
reward for the times when I admitted to the truth. What shall I do? -- I enjoy
letting someone know that he is right!”