Truth in Words

Emet is the Hebrew word for “Truth”. What is its essence? What does it demand of us, especially Now, especially Today?

The letters that comprise the Hebrew are Alef-Mem-Tav. For those of us who believe, know that G-d is the Author of the Torah, the use of language is purposeful and NOTHING is coincidental!  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that these three letters are the first-middle-last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. They represent absolute balance, harmony and by the combination into the structural unity of this word encompass ALL!

The Midrash teaches, however, that when G-d created this world, an imperfect one to boot and placed within it an imperfect being – Man – He cast Truth in its absoluteness down to the earth and decreed that Truth would emerge from that world and through Man.  In that way, His Creation was perfect!  He did not create a xerox copy of Himself nor an army of robots, but rather sentient beings who could choose to seek perfection of themselves. Such latitude came with a price. Man could and would choose poorly, thereby bringing consequences upon him that would reverberate over centuries!

This invaluable gift of imperfection came along with the unique power of speech so that Man became a midaber, a speaking being.  As Rashi teaches us at the end of parshas Noah, before he confused the nations who were arrogantly building a tower to challenge His Authority, the language spoken by all of mankind was loshon kodesh, the Holy Tongue of Hebrew.

As the Torah unfolds and as a foundation of all future generations, Sefer Bereishis (Genesis) tells the history of the Avos, our forefathers, in the establishment of the Jewish People and the covenant with them to make the Land of Israel their inheritance, their permanent home.

But, our use of words and our deeds deviated from the Plan, and we found ourselves in Golus, dispersed among the nations, who had forgotten their common ancestry and their once common language. The tragedy is that so successful was the confusion set into motion at the Tower of Babel, that amidst the nations, either in the Land or in other lands, we Jews got imprinted with the manipulated words of our hosts and simply lost the message, the mandate.

We recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the six-day war when Jerusalem, the Western Wall, Judea & Samaria and so much of the land promised to the Avos. On November 29th, undoubtedly, Israel will mark the UN vote that partitioned Palestine and then on May 14th the country, Jews all over the world, will in lockstep joyfully wave the Israeli flag, dance in the streets and have speakers deliver orations praising and marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.

Wonderful!  Reality? I have lectured to various groups on the subject, “Israel’s Right to Exist is Not Dependent on a UN vote!” I have read and commend to the books written by Lee Bender and Jerome Verlin – Israel 300 Years and Pressing Israel.  I search for Truth about Israel’s right to exist and to have its homeland – and am often disappointed and disheartened by the weight of scholarly and literary sources that begin their arguments with the Balfour Declaration or the UN vote!  Often the lone voice is in such organizations as the ZOA, and its beleaguered president, Mort Klein, who refuses to be “politically correct”!

To be “politically correct” is to embrace the words that are nothing more than the propaganda of the nations and peoples who would rob us of Truth.  The Truth IS that the presence of Jews in Israel has been continuous and unbroken.  There have always been Jews in the Land promised and given to us by G-d. Often, that number has been few, because of Golus and the peril and difficulty of walking thousands of miles from the lands of our dispersion, and settling among enemies that would wish to annihilate us.

But, it is important, it is vital to bring into the conversation the words of Truth.  The absence of it brings “death” – literally!  The balance of the alef-mem-tav is transformed destructively by the removal of the Alef from the word. Once the alef is removed, the residue is the Hebrew word spelled mem-tav, which means “death”.  The Alef represents G-d and, structurally, the letter is made up of two yuds and a vav. The gematria of those internal letters that are the building block of the alef is 26.  That number equals the gematria of Hashem – the yud-heh-vav-heh.  So remove G-d and his Covenant with the Jewish People and the wished-for outcome that our enemies would seek is Death. Just a few days ago, Hamas unambiguously said that it is not peace or co-existence with Israel that is its mission, but the annihilation of the Jewish State.  With that mission, we should negotiate?

It is time that we boldly and clearly use the Words of Truth in our publications, our speeches, our inner thoughts. Our connection to Israel is eternal!  Jerusalem is our Eternal City – yir hakodosh – the Western Wall is not an Islamic relic upon which a mosque stands. Not even mentioned in the Koran as a holy site, Jerusalem and Israel are not the jewels of Islam’s crown!  No matter how much chessed we do, no matter how tolerant we are, no matter how many mosques and churches we permit on our soil, Israel is our Homeland, and it has been for 3000 years!  The displaced persons we have been through so many exiles and pogroms, through the Holocaust, are not what define us. Judea and Samaria are not “occupied territories” and building homes in the Land does not need worldwide approval.

We need to win the War of Words. That war is more potent and powerful than the weapons of armies. We must remember that we are the People of the Book. We must remember that Isaac-Yitzchak’s blessing was contained in his recognition that Jacob (and his descendants) find definition and strength in Kol Yaakov – the Words of Truth!  May we reclaim our Voice!  It’s about time!

About the Author
Naphtali Perlberger is a Senior Lecturer for AISH HaTorah and gives Parsha HaShavua shiurim at Young Israel of the Main Line. He is one of the founders and a past president of the Philadelphia Community Kollel. He is Founder & President of Philadelphia Chapter of Children of the Holocaust, and past FJA Chairman of Men's Organizations; talk show host for a radio show, "G-d is Listening" and former radio news broadcaster. Currently President of Kosloff Torah Academy High School for Girls.
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