Buying Truth, Speaking Truth, Acknowledging Truth

Selections from traditional sources


The following selections address the issue of truthfulness. The questions following each section can be explored in groups or by individuals. Reprinted with permission from Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.

Proverbs 23:23

Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. 

Your Proverbs Navigator

1. How does one buy truth?

2. If one is not supposed to sell, from whom does one buy it?

Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 10a

Rabbi Hiyya Bar Rav from Difti taught them: “And the people stood with Moshe from morning until evening” (Exodus 18). Does it make sense that Moshe judged the whole day? When did he learn his Torah?

truth and factRather it comes to teach you that any judge who judges truthfully for even an hour–the verse sees him as if he were a partner of the Holy One in the creation of the world. Here it is written: “And the people stood with Moshe from morning until evening.” and there it is written: “And there was morning and there was evening, one day.”

Your Talmud Navigator

1. Is it in a judge’s power to judge truthfully?

2. What does truth have to do with creation?

Values of Our Fathers

Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel said, “The world is sustained by three things, by justice, by truth, and by peace. As it has been stated: Speak every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates” (Zechariah 8:16).

The Peace Chapter

Rav Muna said: These three things are actually one. When justice is done, truth is served and peace is achieved, as it is written: “These are the things that you shall do; Speak every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates” (Zechariah 8:16).

Your Peace Chapter Navigator

1. How does Rav Muna understand the Mishnah in Values of Our Fathers?

2. Do you agree with his formula?

Values of Our Fathers Chapter 5 Mishnah 7

[There are] seven things [characteristic] in someone unrefined and seven in a wise person: a wise man speaks not before one who is greater than he in wisdom, and does not interrupt his fellow; and is not hasty to answer; he asks in accordance with the subject-matter, and he answers in accordance with the accepted decision; and he speaks of the first [point] first, and of the last [point] last; and concerning that which he has not heard, he says: I have not heard; and he acknowledges the truth. The reverse of these [qualities are characteristic] in an unrefined person.

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Rabbi Avi Weinstein is the Head of Jewish Studies at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Kansas City.

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