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Truth or lies? Truth or Justice?

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A story is told about a prominent professor in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem who taught ethics and morality based on Aristotle’s teachings. At the same time, he had a reputation for constantly trying to start up with the women in the course … including the married ones. He would often try to tempt them.

One time a woman in the course asked the professor how he could reconcile teaching a course on ethics with his own immoral behavior. The professor replied, “What is the problem? Is there any connection between knowledge and behavior? Do you expect a mathematics teacher to be a triangle? Of course not! In the same way, you should not expect me to actually conform to Aristotle’s code of behavior.”

As a high school principal I often find myself challenged by a question that implies the opposite approach. Children who have misbehaved and who have been told that they will be punished complain that I am trying to “educate” them. “What connection does this have to studying?” they ask. “My behavior has nothing to do with my success, don’t forget that in class I get good marks.”

This is a very hard question to answer!

Justice is blind ( ... or maybe not )The rules of logic that were developed by Aristotle allow us to differentiate between correct and incorrect conclusions. Can we say that every correct conclusion that is not based on a logical error can be defined as “truth”? Such a logical-mathematical definition of the concept of “truth” would lack any moral significance!

The sages of Israel, based on prophecies that were handed down through the ages and which are recorded in the Torah of Moses and by prophets who followed in his footsteps, always chose to emphasize the ethical implications of the word “truth” as an expression of honesty and forthrightness (the opposite of the word “false”)! As is written, “Keep your distance from a false word” [Exodus 23:7]. A person of truth is first and foremost a person who does not lie. “A wise person despises falsehood” [Proverbs 13:5].

For the sages of Israel, the word “truth” does not refer to “mathematical truth”! A mathematician can prove a theorem without being a righteous person, without having good ethical traits. A mathematical theorem can be correct irrespective of the moral status of the one who proves it. The prophets, who were followed by the sages, speak about a different type of truth. They want to know what traits a person must have in order to achieve the truth about everything, in all realms of life.

We would like to invite you to join us, we will  share with you the inner thoughts of the sages of Israel. These people, through their links to the traditions of prophecy, can help find solutions to various problems in life. They can show us how to live in a way of truth at the present time, when the world is in a state of chaos.

In a world where every possibility is legitimate, it is necessary to “organize matters” in a way that corresponds to ethical values, and to view the world from the point of view of morality and not just in technical terms.

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About Rabbi Chaim Goldberg

Rabbi Chaim Goldberg Coordinator of Noahide Contacts Brit Olam – the Noahide World Center www.bnoah.org

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