Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Sivan 5766 - June 14, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Truth and Falsehood

by A. ben Aharon

Torah Sources About Truth and Falsehood

The story of the Meraglim raises the issue of truth and accuracy in speech. Modern research illuminates once more what our Sages taught: That the inclination to lie is intrinsic in every human being, and is actually part of the Creation. The yetzer hora is always there lying in wait and anyone who does not possess yiras Shomayim can fall into the grasp of falsehood through all kinds of different and varied leniencies: social lies, scientific lies, and even lies in the natural universe. Some people think that lying is a question of health. Why is science incapable of seeing how to search for truth?


Torah Sources About Truth and Falsehood

The seal of the Ribono Shel Olom is truth. Our Sages emphasized our obligation to work on searching for truth, and to what an extent we have to flee from falsehood. We have collected a few of their sayings to give a little balance to the bitter picture that non-Jewish researchers paint of human nature. This is what the Torah teaches us about the search for truth—and how to attain it.

Kol mi shemotzi emess la'amito, ma'aleh olov haKosuv ke'ilo hoyo shutaph im HaKodosh Boruch Hu bema'asei bereishis (Mechilta, Yisro) — Whoever who brings out the complete truth, the posuk considers him as being like a partner with the Ribono Shel Olom in Creation.

The Ramchal explains this as follows:

"Emes is one of the pillars upon which the world stands (Ovos 1:18). Speaking falsehood then, is comparable to removing the foundation of the world. Conversely, if one is heedful of the truth it is as if he maintains the world's foundation (Mesillas Yeshorim, chapter 11).

Our Sages said: A person should always be a yirei Shomayim in secret, admit the truth and speak truth in his heart.(Otzar Hamedroshim, Eisenstein, and in the daily prayers).

They also said: Why are the letters of emes scattered away from each other, while the letters of sheker are close to each other in the order of the Alef-Beis? The reason is because it is hard to tell the truth, while lying is easy and accessible.

As we see in Tanno devei Rebbi Yishmoel: Bo letamei poschim lo; habo letaher mesay'im lo." (Someone who comes to defile himself the doors are opened for him, while someone who looks to purify himself will get help.)

Why are the letters of emes on a solid base while the letters of sheker stand on one leg? It is because whoever keeps to emes lives forever, can anticipate Olom Habo and will not have his Olom Hazeh reduced, as it says, ki sheva yipol tzaddik vekom . . . (for a tzaddik falls seven times and gets up . . .)(Mishlei 24). Falsehood will never hold up, as it says, Uresho'im yicoshlu bero'oh (while the wicked will stumble under adversity) (Ibid.) (Midrash Osiyos deRebbe Akiva, Eisenstein).

Concerning our obligation to search for truth, and the impossibility of a person's fulfilling his purpose in the world without it, the author of Chovos Halevovos sums up as follows:

(The Understanding to the Soul): If you are telling the truth in what you are saying, the treatment may possibly be successful in your case. But if it is not the truth, why should you deceive yourself? For a sick person who lies to his physician only cheats himself, wastes the physician's efforts and aggravates his sickness. (Chovos Halevovos gate 3, chapter 5).

It is also written:

"Will you not awake, my brother, and realize how you have striven for something imperfect and have hurried to attain it in order to keep your body in normal condition, though it will be associated with you only for a short while, and during this period it is neither free from pain nor immune against accident. If the body is too satiated, it gets sick; if it is hungry, it becomes weak; if you clothe it more than is needed, it feels uncomfortable; if you leave it naked, it suffers. Furthermore, the management in reference to it health and sickness, to its life or death, is not in accordance with your will nor in your power, but is subject to the guidance of your Creator, exalted be He.

"Wherein, then, consists the preeminence of your soul over your body? The superiority of the former's world over that of the latter; the former's ascent over the latter's descent; the former's spirituality over the latter's corporeality; the former's permanence over the latter's changeability; the former's continued existence over the latter's dissolution; the former's simplicity over the latter's complexity; the former's ethereal nature over the latter's grossness; the former's rationality over the latter's animal character; the former's capacity for acquiring good moral qualities over the latter's capacity for acquiring despicable vices.

"If you use so much diligence and effort to further the well- being of your body, despite its pettiness and unworthiness, and your weak capacity either to save it from injury or to benefit it, how much more is it your duty to use diligence and effort for the improvement of your noble soul which is immortal, whose interests you have been charged to manage and study to improve by acquiring sciences and all kinds of knowledge, as it is said, "Buy truth and sell it not" (Mishlei 23:23); "Get wisdom, get understanding" (Ibid. 4: 5); "How much better is it to get wisdom than to get gold (Ibid. 16:16); "So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto your soul; ["when you have found it; then shall there be a reward"] (Ibid. 24:14); "If you be wise, you shall be wise for yourself" (Ibid. 9:12). This last text means that spiritual possessions that you acquire remain yours. No one can rob you of them, as happens with material possessions. (Chovos Halevovos, gate 8, chapter 3).


The author of Tikkun Middos Hanefesh writes:

"Dovid had already asked how to reach happiness in this world when he says: Asei imi os letovoh (make for me a sign for good) (Tehillim 86:17), and further desired to be ready to attain the happiness of Olom Habo when he says, Yirveyun mideshen Beisecho, venachal adonecho sashkeim (They will be sated from the abundance of Your House; and from the stream of Your pleasures will You give them to drink (Ibid. 36:9).

But this is a level which only the deserving can attain, as it says:

Mi yogur be'oholecho, mi yishkon behar kodshecho? Holeich tomim ufo'eil tzedek, vedoveir emes bilvovo. (Who will live in Your tent, who will dwell in the mountain of Your Sanctity? One who walks in simplicity and acts with righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart) (Ibid. 15: 1, 2). (Sefer Tikkun Middos Hanefesh, preface).

The author of Shaarei Teshuvoh writes:

Kinyan haTorah nikro kinyan ha'emess kemo she'omar (Mishlei 23:23): Emes knei ve'al timkor. Vene'emar (Tehillim 119:142): veSorosecho emes (The acquisition of Torah is called an acquisition of truth, as it is said, "Buy the truth and sell it not," and as it says, "And your Torah is truth").

In his commentary on maseches Ovos, he writes as follows:

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: The world stands on three things: On judgment, that he should act with justice in complete truth; and on truth, that a person must follow in the ways of repentance which is truth and the Torah is true and he should follow the ways of HaKodosh Boruch Hu Who is Truth. He should also follow that path, as it says (Devorim 28:9): Veholachto bidrochov (And walk in His ways).

Our Sages said that even when speaking of meaningless matters a person should not lie when giving them over, as it is told of Rav. Rav had a wife who would cook him the opposite of what he asked for. The son noticed it and whenever his father asked for something, the son would tell the mother the opposite. Thus his father got what he asked for. The father asked him what happened [since up to then he had been getting the opposite of what he asked and he started getting exactly what he had asked for]. The son said that he had been changing Rav's requests. The father said it was a nice idea but do not do it, because it's not good to tell lies even on unimportant matters.

As it says (Yirmiyohu 9:4): "They taught their tongues to speak lies." For a person who becomes habituated to lying [even] on matters where there is neither a loss nor a gain involved, when it comes to major matters he will not be able to speak the truth either, for the mouth which speaks has become controlled by habit (Peirush Rabbeinu Yonah on Ovos 1:18).


The Sefer Hachinuch writes (on the issur of false testimony):

The root of this mitzvah is obvious, because falsehood is despicable and any thinking person will consider it an awful thing.


The Maharal showed us the great secret when he wrote: "The Torah teaches the path of truth and the straightforward path . . . and we have already stated that the Torah is Olom Habo in itself, as is known to the wise and understanding. And when one strays from the rational Torah which is Olom Habo, he loses Olom Habo" (Tiferes Yisroel chapter 15).


But truth is difficult to attain, as the author of Orchos Tzaddikim explains:

"Know that just as one weighs silver and gold in the scales, and discriminates between the light and the heavy, so must the wise man `weigh on the scales' to understand falsity and truth. There are different types of falsehoods. How so? If one says about a tree that it is gold, that falsehood is manifest. If one says about burnished brass that it is gold, that falsehood requires discrimination, for both [gold and brass] are of a similar appearance and there are some forgers who can make brass look so much like gold that even the experts cannot discriminate between them without great difficulty.

"The same is true of thought. There are some sophists who can manufacture rationalizations to bolster falsehood until it looks like truth. But the wise man, in each case, has the understanding to discriminate between the false and the true. And it is well-known that falsehood and truth are conjoint in one heart (Orchos Tzaddikim, Shaar Hasheker)."

He goes on to say:

"There is a man so false that even if he knows something to be false for certain, he is nevertheless drawn after it. And it goes without saying that if there are some peripheral substantiations which might lend this falsehood an air of truth, he will ardently pursue his falsehood. But there are some basically truthful men who will not be drawn after falsehood unless they can find some rationalizations. The wise man, in his wisdom, will quash these rationalizations.

"And you should know that the rationalizations of all men are generated by their traits. All of the lazy man's rationalizations are generated by his laziness; the angry man's by his anger; the proud man's by his pride. The same holds true with all of the other traits that we have mentioned. The trait generates the rationalization. The rationalizations of the extravagant man are generated by his extravagance; those of the miserly man by his miserliness; those of the lover by his love; those of the hater by his hate. Therefore, one who wishes to be a true man of G-d must first divest himself of all defective traits so that they do not draw him in their direction, and then he will be able to attain the truth" (Ibid.).

He also writes:

"One who merits reflecting upon these things, upon the souls' being hewn from the source of truth, will conduct all of his affairs in truth and will not bring falsehood into the place of the holiness of truth. This is the intent of (Tehillim 145:18): "Hashem is close to all who call Him, to all who call upon Him in truth." For the Holy One Blessed be He, who is truth, draws near to all who call upon Him in truth.

"And what is meant by calling upon G-d in truth? Freeing one's heart of everything in the world and drawing near to the Holy One alone, so that one's intellect grows stronger in its cleaving to the Celestial Radiance, and one's mind yearns constantly for Him. One can attain to this only by secluding himself within his room; and for this reason all who would be saintly should cultivate separation and seclusion, and join the company of men only when there is a great need to do so" (Ibid.).

He also writes:

"And this was King David's meaning in (Tehillim 15:1- 2): "O Hashem, who will abide in Your tent? Who will dwell on Your holy mountain? He who walks uprightly and performs righteousness and speaks the truth in his heart." Reflect upon: "And speaks the truth in his heart." It does not say, "speaks the truth with his mouth" — the idea being that the truth must be implanted and fixed in a man's heart" (Ibid.).

He writes further:

"There is no greater quality than speaking the truth, to wit (Tehillim 119:160): "The crown of Your word is truth." And we have been exhorted (Shemos 23:7): "Keep yourself far from a false word." Even one's insinuations should be truthful, for the reward for truth is very great. One should, therefore, accustom himself to walk in truth, and he should study Torah to know the truth in order to be able to perform the mitzvos truthfully, according to the halochoh. One should always acknowledge the truth, and he should even study matters of Aggadah which do not involve the fulfillment of mitzvos, so that the heart will believe a truthful thing.

"One should not be ashamed to accept the truth from anyone. Even if one is the smallest of the small and completely spurned, still accept the truth from him, for a precious pearl, even in the hands of the small and despised, is still a precious pearl" (Ibid.).


The Chazon Ish wrote on the difference between one who is dedicated to truth and one who is not, as follows:

"A person who speaks falsehood at one point still possesses the structure of a human being, albeit who has sin in him. But one who continually speaks falsehood takes on the structure of a liar and his persona disappears. How will he be able to accept mussar whose foundation is truth and whose stamp is truth? [When thinking about] mussar too he will give himself the false illusions of a sick man and will not have sensation (Emunah Ubitochon, chapter 4).


And how do we merit the level of emes? HaRav Tzodok Hacohen wrote very deep things on this:

"That is why [this world] is called a world of sheker. Because when the truth is revealed there will be a destruction of the Heavens and Earth, as it is written in Yeshayohu (51, 6). That is, there will be a complete nullification of anything relating to Olom Hazeh, since then we reach the level of knowledge of Hashem and our hearts will be opened. When we achieve this, then the issue of free choice and deeds will be completely annulled, and the material world of action, of Olom Hazeh, will disappear.

"Therefore it is called a world of sheker, which is the opposite of the complete truth discussed above. And since all of Israel have a share in Olom Habo, that is to say, the world of truth, for that reason the Torah, which has the truth, was given to them. The Torah teaches them to know the truth, and then they gain freedom from the yetzer hora and the nations of the world because it [the Torah] is the diametric opposite of falsehood, just like Olom Habo [is]. The difference [is that with the Torah] it is short- lived, that is, [the truth] is only viewed and not owned (Likutei Amorim 16).

The Torah—that is what teaches us to know the truth, but one has to make sure that it is not a temporary asset, but a permanent one!

The Chochmoh of the Goyim About Lying

Let's begin with a real-life story.

"Haven't you phoned him yet?" the big boss's voice thundered.

The journalist hesitated momentarily. It was pressure hour. The phone call was essential for an important project, but he had not yet called. Why not?

What difference did it make?

From the boss's perspective, something which had not been carried out was a fault, with no connection to whether the reason was or was not valid.

As things turned out, incidentally, it was not all that valid . . .

Should he say the truth? The journalist considered the question, and did not find it hard to reach the comfortable and easy conclusion.

And he answered: "I didn't reach him yet."

This answer would convince almost everyone. But not an American boss who knew the world and its people.

"The boss's eyes flashed," as the journalist later related. "`Just one minute,' he said, with obvious impatience. `What is it you mean? That you called him but weren't able to reach him? Or that you didn't call him at all?' "

The journalist saw that he was caught. He also knew his boss and realized that it was best to admit the truth. This time. "Ooops," he recalled that unpleasant moment. "I had to admit that I had never even tried calling him . . . "

Lies and Liars

It didn't start yesterday.

Mark Twain was one of the most famous American authors. His analysis of human beings was extraordinarily acute. If the sentence that cut into human nature was often bitter, his formulation was generally humorous enough to entrance his readers. On our topic too, he had much to say: "Everybody lies—every day; every hour; awake; asleep; in his dreams; in his joy; in his mourning; if he keeps his tongue still, his hands, his feet, his eyes, his attitude, will convey deception—and purposely . . . "

Too strong? Perhaps, but very true. It is the nature of a person (who has no Torah or yiras Shomayim) to lie, ignore the truth or suppress it.

"Deceit is the connecting thread that runs throughout human history," claims the Scientific American, the mouthpiece for science in America. It is especially blatant in literature, whether it be ancient, classic literature where the hero of the plot lies to progress and succeed, or whether it be in life as represented by the characteristic American plots of Western culture.

"Maybe Americans love these stories because lying is so characteristic of human nature," Scientific American ventures to suggest.

And this is not just a reasonable conjecture. It has been proven in psychological research. For example, in the research of Robert Feldman, psychologist at the University of Massachusetts.

In 2002, Feldman conducted a research among his students. He asked them to conduct a regular everyday conversation with a stranger—but unknown to them, he recorded and filmed the conversation. At the end of all the interviews, he asked the students to check themselves. Had they always told the truth during the conversation? A conversation in which they had absolutely no reason to depart from the truth?

Scientific Proof

The results were astounding. 60 percent of the students admitted that they had lied at least once during the conversation—a conversation lasting 10 minutes. However, many lied even more. The average number of lies was around three.

What was the nature of the lies? There were lies of all shapes and forms. There were the obvious lies, and there were `inaccuracies.' There were exaggerations, and there were boastings.

Feldman noted that the number of those lying was equal among both men and women. But they lied out of different motivations.

Obviously, all this data is contingent on students who admitted that they had lied. Were there also people who lied and said they had not lied at all?

You are invited to draw your own conclusions . . .

Feldman's research was actually a continuation of a research which was carried out ten years earlier, which demonstrated that more that 90 percent of students had a tendency to lie when it came to the personal details of their lives. The difference was that the men tended to lie in order to boast, while women sought to be modest.

In order to examine the quality of honesty of those being questioned, the researchers conducted a comparison between two methods of examination. In the first method, all those questioned were asked in the conventional way. In the second method, they were ostensibly hooked up to a lie detector. It was not a real lie detector but none of those being questioned knew this.

It turned out—perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not—that under the threat of detection by the lie detector, the number of lies was reduced — but only by half. The participants were still not always careful to tell the truth. But their readiness to lie and face being caught was much less.

One wonders: Is it permissible to lie (about hooking them up to a lie detector) in order to conduct a scientific experiment? Scientific American had the following comment: "How ironic it is that the researchers needed to deceive the examinees in order to make them admit the truth about their own lies."

Big and Small Lies

Psychological research proves that people are willing to lie. Clear and obvious lies, lies that could expose them to disgrace—though they know full well that they are behaving improperly—and all this, just for personal benefit.

But there are also lies which are less blatant. Those lies where a person is ready to deceive himself through them, and convince himself that "they are not that bad," that they are "almost true." It is just too easy to forget that saying of the Kotsker Rebbe: "A half-truth is a whole lie."

We lie by omitting certain details, and we lie by the sly ways in which we word things, explains Scientific American. We cry crocodile tears, smile pleasantly at people and wish them "a good day," and when necessary we even pretend that we have certain emotions — when nothing could be further from the truth.

And anyway, are not our whole lies based on deception, asks the scientific researcher. Take for example makeup or business attire in Western society. Does the businessman not buy clothes to show himself in the most pleasant and impressive light that he can? And are there not people who invest in plastic surgery in order to make a better impression, externally, on others?

Even the use of perfumes and deodorants constitutes a lie on a certain level, says Scientific American. A person is always trying to present himself as something he is not, and to conceal who he really is.

Why lie to such a degree? The answer the researchers give is not flattering. A person lies because it works; it succeeds with others. A successful lie has fine results.

There is something very deep and fundamental in this. In scientific language, a person lies because he wants to get something out of it. In Jewish language, a person lies because he has a yetzer hora to lie, and that is the nature of a human being.

Messages and Lies

Researchers claim that giving over false messages is not unique to mankind. This trait is apparent—without consciousness or free choice, obviously—in animals too, and even in plants.

It is a little difficult to discuss lies in this context. But there is definitely an inherent quality there of transmitting misleading and mistaken information. And this is how it is done:

Animals, and sometimes even plants, relate to their environment in a variety of different ways. Through sounds, colors, chemicals which are carried in the atmosphere, and various other methods.

This is the means by which the natural universe communicates and interacts. Animals identify each other in these ways. Plants, which are reliant on the animals in their environment, signal to them through these means. The basic assumption of researchers in the natural universe has been that all these messages are very exact. If they were not, of what use would they be?

It came as a surprise to discover that here too, "Types and varieties that are nonhuman invest a great deal in order to transmit inaccurate messages."

Take the orchid for example. One of its varieties is famous for its beautiful blue flowers. Few people realize, however, that these flowers are intended to attract wasps to them, and thereby help disseminate the seeds of the plant. The flowers appear to be female wasps, drawing the male wasps to them. When they figure out that they were fooled, the departing male wasps carry along pollen from the flower.

Is this called a lie? Well certainly, its external appearance, and even the scent which communicates something to the wasps, definitely come under the category of a misleading message. But it would be a mistake to speak here of an intentional lie, such as human beings do, since the flower does not intend to "deceive" the insects. It was born that way, for that is the method of its reproduction.

But anyway, it leaves a very powerful impression that almo belo shikro lo ko'i (the world can not exist without falsehood).

Perhaps this can comfort us somewhat, Scientific American suggest, after the shock of this embarrassing self knowledge.

Quarrel between Brothers

Location: Africa. Reporter: Investigator who has arrived to follow up on life in the Savanna of Ethiopia. The researchers called the characters in the drama Mel and Paul. Mel is the oldest, and Paul is her little brother.

Mel dug and sweated to extract from the ground the bulb of a local plant called a corm (a kind of edible root, like at onion). It was the summer. There was a shortage of food, and the soil was very hard. Paul sat down by the side and watched his sister who was hard at work.

When Mel finally managed to pull out the delicious bulb, Paul acted in accordance with his obviously premeditated plan. He let out a terrible shriek. Their mother, who was in hearing range, hurried towards them. Arriving on the scene, she assumed that Mel had harassed her little brother. Therefore, without waiting, she screamed at her and drove her away. Poor Mel ran away fearfully, with her mother in pursuit.

The bulb stayed behind, with Paul. It quickly became prey for Paul's sharp teeth. He actually used this trick several times until he was caught . . .

The surprise is that Paul, Mel, the mother and the rest of the clan are actually baboons. This depiction was taken from a research that was conducted in 1987 by Scottish primatologists Richard W. Byrne and Andrew Whiten and recounted in Byrne's 1995 book The Thinking Ape (Oxford University Press).

The conclusion of the researchers was that the monkeys were quite clever. They called it "the hypothesis of Machiavellian intelligence," after the Italian philosopher of the Middle Ages, who explained how to lie and be exploitive in politics. According to this hypothesis, lying is a convenient means of achieving one's goals, and "naturally" develops the intelligence of those forced to use it.

Sadna de'ar'o chad hu; alma belo shikro lo ko'i (human nature is much the same all over the world, the world cannot exist without a measure of falsehood).

Social Lies

The researchers derived enormous enjoyment from the discovery that monkeys are capable of lying. Now there was an excuse for people, and even themselves, to behave in this way. It is very easy to take the responsibility off yourself, if you can give over the blame by saying, "It's just how I was born."

In modern society as well, people continue to lie to achieve results. Resume are prepared, well polished and "inexact," in order to create the necessary impression, and gain a nice, well-paying job.

This occurs even in a situation in which truth is demanded above everything else, such as in scientific research.

Recently a survey was published in the United States among scientists. Amazingly, the results showed that one out of every three investigators lied or deviated from the rules of the research (which prevented the achieving of accurate results). The findings "raise harsh questions about the level of honesty among the scientists, and about how trustworthy are the medical inferences drawn from their research," wrote the journalist Rick Weiss who researched this dismal episode, in the Washington Post.

This survey was published in Nature, a prestigious scientific journal. More than 3000 medical researchers participated in it. All received a research grant from the American government.

The lies were of all different types. A small percent stole ideas from other researchers. There were a very small number who simply forged the results. But 15 percent admitted that they preferred to "ignore" findings that did not fit in with their theories. When there are contradictory findings, one has to give up on one's theory, but they preferred to ignore whatever contradicted their information, out of a "strong instinct" that they were actually right . . . A larger number changed the results to adapt to whoever gave them the money for their research.

Dr. B. C. Martinson, who conducted the research, warned that science can not remain "complacent and satisfied with itself." In an interview, Martinson stressed that we are not talking about "a small number of bad apples."

What can be done about it? As the editor of the research himself admitted, "The modern scientist faces fierce competition, and the various demands, often unreasonable, are placed on researchers, so that they have too much pressure to achieve results. What is to be done?


That is a euphemism for lying.

Everyone lies. Even scientists.

Internal Lying

The most widespread lying is not in science, nor in society. The lie that is in every person is the way we lie to ourselves: when we are not ready to admit the unpleasant truth to ourselves and we arrange some acceptable excuse for ourselves, the only disadvantage being that it is a lie.

We blame everyone else when we find out that someone is lying. Yet we have an amazing way of ignoring the lies that we tell ourselves, writes Scientific American. Self- deception is very common.

Perhaps the reader will be surprised at this inference. Is not lying to yourself like stealing money from your own bank account? And anyway, isn't a person conscious of his own lies?

The answer is no, and no again. Being conscious of inner truth can only be achieved through hard work, and a lot of contemplation and searching.

The researcher and philosopher, Rene Descartes suggested a model of the structure of human thought. He claimed that the intellect can know itself, as if it were a kingdom of only lights and no shadows. If we introspect we can know ourselves. But this is a "deeply misguided" assumption, according to Scientific American.

Our brain, which enables us to think, operates in the form of numerous systems. There is the system of thought, and there is that of self-contemplation. But thought does not "see itself." More than that, many of our decisions are made not in a conscious way, as we believe, but in the depths of our personality, at a level that precedes self-awareness. This fact, which has shocked the scientific world, was proved without a doubt by Professor Benjamin Libet many decades ago. He asked subjects to record when they had decided to press a button, but he found that neural activity in preparation for pressing the button began a third of a second before this awareness.

Even though our consciousness likes to present itself as making the decisions, this appears to be an illusion like all other illusions, opines Scientific American.

In order to know ourselves, we have to stop and contemplate what we do unconsciously. And here the danger lies, as the great ones in mussar argued. Where there is bias, it becomes very hard to distinguish the truth. People like to lie to themselves.

Obviously, self-deception is not always complete, writes researcher David Livingstone. "We are sometimes aware that we are willing dupes in our own con game . . . We know that the stories we tell ourselves do not jibe with our behavior . . ." But even then few are the people who stop to examine themselves and make reforms. The students, in the research with which we began our survey, knew that they were lying to the man they were speaking to. But that did not bother them one bit!

In order to improve and search for truth, we need to want to stop lying. And that is not easy — not at all easy.

Buying Truth

Sometimes, a simple person cannot cope with truth. Life, according to American researchers, is not easy. When a person is forced to confront a painful truth, like the danger of approaching death or some other harsh blow, he develops a defense mechanism of denial and excuses. Otherwise, he simply cannot go on.

And anyway, argue the researchers, those who are not always careful to examine their own inner truth are usually "happier," because they do not see the sad truth about themselves.

Only a person who does not know the secret of working on himself, who has no awareness of the happiness in the consciousness of good and evil in his soul, and of the effort to overcome them—only he would be able to note down such conclusions.

But they already said: Chochmoh bagoyim ta'amin. Torah bagoyim al ta'amin.


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