July 5, 2022

Yevamot 115

Today’s daf (Yevamot 115a) states a principle that people don’t lie about facts that are likely to become known in the future. And why? Because people are afraid of being exposed as a liar.

Admittedly, there are many people nowadays for whom this principle, and this fear, does apply. However, the notion of having a שם טוב (‘good name’), and of being regarded as someone ‘whose word is their bond’ and who acts with integrity is sadly a rarer quality today. Nowadays too many people are ‘economical’ with the truth. Many individuals – including those such as politicians – brazenly lie. Yet this rubs off on us all. Our resumes are often creatively written in ways that, at times, overstep the bounds of truth. And beyond this, so much of the image that so many of us portray, especially on social media, is far from the real lives that we lead.

So why do people lie? It is, as our Gemara states, because people believe that they won’t be exposed. Yet, in actual fact, the greatest lie that we utter isn’t the one to communicate to others, but – instead – the lie that we say to ourselves when we convince ourselves that whatever untruth we have spoken or represented won’t be found out, and in so doing, that speaking mistruths is justified.

Our Sages teach that there are times when truth needs to be sacrificed for peace. Yet even when such situations arise, it is essential that we know the difference between what is truth, and what is not.

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