“The truth is in the eyes of the beholder,” says the famous maxim. In the age of fake news, it is more difficult than ever to tell true from false. So how can we decide whom to believe? How can we know which way is right when everyone seems to be dishonest? Philosophy, mathematics, law, and science all use different techniques to determine the truth and to define it. The wisdom of Kabbalah also has its definition: Truth is care for others. The Creator of the world created it with the quality of love for all of creations, or He would not have created them, and in Hebrew, Emet [truth] is the name of the Creator. Therefore, truth is the Creator, and it is a kind relation toward others. Every other relation toward others, therefore, is falsehood, or close to it.
Kindness, or care for others, means I relate to others with kindness and care, that I am thinking of their benefit. I do not have to know what is good for them and what is not; it is not about what I know or do not know, but about how I feel toward them. Through caring for others, I will also know how to treat them in a way that is good for them.
It follows that to become truthful, we must learn how to care about others, since our innate nature is selfishness. To do that, we must place ourselves in a society where we can cultivate such feelings toward each other, where I can show others that I am acting toward them in truth, meaning kindness, and they reciprocate that conduct.
Truth, therefore, is not something absolute. The measure of my truthfulness depends on the level of my kindness toward others. Absolute truth is the ultimate goal of our efforts, the final correction. It is the culmination of a process of correction of our relationships.
Note that we do not have to correct ourselves or change ourselves in any way. All we need is to change how we relate to one another, our attitude toward others. If we mean well for others, we are acting toward others in truthfulness. If we mean to harm others, we are acting toward them in falsehood. It is actually quite straightforward.
There is another saying, that only children and drunks tell the truth. There is truth to that because as we grow up and become more sophisticated, we cover up our bad intentions toward others. We exploit others and relate to them well only when it serves our selfish interest. As a result, we have to hide our bad intentions from them, as well as from ourselves, since it is very unpleasant to think of ourselves as egoistic people. In a sense, the only truth in our world is hypocrisy.
We can change our inherent egoism and become truthful, kind people. However, we cannot do it alone. To change ourselves, we must place ourselves in a social setting that constantly demonstrates to me that others are kind, or at least kinder than I am. Using envy in this way can elevate me from my current, self-centered disposition, to a state of concern for others, and changing my qualities from caring for me to caring for others is regarded as changing from falsehood to truth.
We cannot help but begin from falsehood; it is our inherent nature. However, we should use it just as long as we need to in order to resolve that we want to change ourselves. Once we determine that we want to change, we must rise above our nature, with the help of the environment as I have just mentioned, and acquire more and more kindness.
We see that we are dependent on others when it comes to changing ourselves. Therefore, if we want to succeed, we must see to it that many other people want to change themselves for the better, too. It follows, as the wisdom of Kabbalah always says, the individual and the society are dependent on each other, implying that if the society does not succeed, neither will the individual.
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