You Say it but Do You Believe it?
From an early age, we have been taught to tell the truth. In his sefer, “Sefat Tamim”, the Chofetz Chaim writes that falsehood is the only sin in the Torah where we are explicitly required to keep a distance from, as it says; “Keep away from anything false” (Sh’mot 23:7). When you think about it, it’s truly amazing. We know how serious sins are, especially idol worship, murder, kidnapping and forbidden sexual relationships (among others) … yet the only time the Torah shows us that big yellow sign: “Caution – Stay away” is when it comes to lying.
The wonderful ArtScroll sefer “Iggeres haGra – A Letter for the Ages” quotes the Vilna Gaon and how he impressed upon his family the need to always speak the truth. On page 66, Rabbi Shai Graucher, author of the sefer, brings several sources to explain this point. The first is the Talmud Bavli (Succah 46b) which “admonishes a person to keep his word to a child… for failing to do so will train them to lie”. His second source is the Shela HaKadosh who advises parents – who want their children to stay on the right path – “to only speak the truth and stress to them the evils of falsehood”.
In short, there are no Pinocchio’s in Judaism. We are an honest people in words, texts, thoughts, and actions. Based on that, let’s take a look at some of the things we say in our davening. (All translations are from the Complete ArtScroll Siddur)
Three times a day, in the Shemoneh Esrei, we ask that HaShem bring us to Israel (and not for a 10-day trip…) “Sound the great shofar for our freedom, raise the banner to gather our exiles and speedily gather us together from the four corners of the earth to our Land”. – Is this something you want? Do you really want HaShem to move you and your family out of your present location to Israel… permanently?
In the “Avinu Malkeinu” prayer we ask for health, redemption, forgiveness, financial support… but we also say; “Our Father, our King, avenge before our eyes the spilled blood of your servants”. We are not only asking for HaShem to take revenge, we are asking that He do it with us watching! We want to see the revenge on those who hurt our people! This is definitely not a politically correct prayer, but very soon – in the days between Rosh Ha’Shanah and Yom Kippur – we will be saying this twice each day. Do you mean it?
Towards the end of the daily davening, we recite chapter 20 of Tehillim with the famous words; “Some with chariots, and some with horses, but we – in the Name of HaShem our G-d, we call out. They slumped and fell, but we arose and were invigorated”. This is the ultimate tefilla of Emunah! The nations of the world have super advanced weapons and large armies, but we will triumph because our faith is in HaShem. Yet, despite the fact that we say these words daily, how many of us are worried about Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah? How many times do we question if the current USA administration will truly stand with Israel… yet we say every morning that it is to HaShem we call out, not to the Americans. Do we believe what we say?
These themes are repeated on Shabbat during Mussaf (in “Av Ha’Rachamim”) when, once again, we say; “May He, before our eyes, exact retribution… Let there be known among the nations, before our eyes, revenge…”. Then, during Mussaf Shemoneh Esrei we, once again, ask that HaShem bring us to Eretz Yisrael; “May it be Your will, HaShem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that You bring us up in gladness to our land and plant us within our boundaries”.
These tefillot are repeated, throughout our davening. Since this is an article, and not a thesis, I listed just a few examples but know, that – over the course of the Jewish year - we literally daven hundreds of times for vengeance against our enemies, the ingathering of the Jews from across the globe to Eretz Yisrael and for the Knesset to be replaced by the Davidic dynasty!
It is essential that we believe what we are saying! If we are warned many times against falsehood between friends, how much more does that apply when speaking to our Father in Heaven! Its terrible to lie to anyone but it’s simply unfathomable to lie to HaShem. Therefore, when asking for HaShem to smash our enemies (and to see it live!!) and to bring us home – once and for all – to Eretz Ha’Kodesh, let’s truly mean what we say!