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  Day Six: Everlasting Truth from
Chofetz Chaim: Lessons in Truth
Daily studies in honesty and fundamentals of Jewish faith

By Rabbi Shimon Finkelman 


Other Available Chapters
Day 1: Who Wants Life? 
Day 118: What to Ask for 


Day Six: Everlasting Truth

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 the yeshivah.

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!”

 
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