Buying Truth, Speaking Truth, Acknowledging Truth

Selections from traditional sources

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1. What does it mean that we consider compassion and truth to be opposite?

2. How do we understand that people are the enemies of truth and peace and the friends of compassion and righteousness.

3. What is the significance of truth being cast to the ground and then flourishing from the earth?

4. Is "truth" sacrificed for "lovingkindness and righteousness?"

Babylonian Talmud Ta'anit 8a

Rabbi Ami said: The rains come because of those who keep their word. As it is written: Truth will flourish from the earth and righteousness will be observed from the heavens. (Psalms 85:12) Rabbi Ami also said: Come and see how great those who keep their word are. From where do we know this, from the rat and the pit.

Rashi [the medieval Torah commentator] on this passage: The rat and the pit--that killed two people. An incident where a young man gave his word to a young woman that he would marry her. She said: Who will bear witness? All that was there was a weasel and a pit. The young man said "Let the weasel and the pit be witnesses." Afterwards he forgot his promise and married someone else, and he gave birth to two sons. One fell in a pit and died and the other was bitten by a weasel and died.

His wife asked: what has happened that our children die these bizarre deaths? He then remembered and told her this story.

Your Talmud Navigator

1. What's the relationship between trustworthiness and "karma" in this story?

2. What does that have to do with rain?

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Rabbi Avi Weinstein

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