Amongst the many mitzvot in this week’s Parsha, Ki Teitzei, we read, “When you shall make a vow unto the L-rd your G-d, you shall not be slack to pay it; For the L-rd your G-d will surely require it of you and it would be a sin… Whatever has gone out of your lips you shall keep and perform.” (Deuteronomy 23:24).
The Torah tells us the significance and responsibility of one’s words and commitments. One must also be careful not to bring others to a situation in which they will say something which is not truthful.
Sefer Chasidim writes, “If you see people speaking amongst themselves quietly, do not ask them what they are talking about. They may not want you to know and you may cause them to lie to you.”
Our rabbis make the following interesting observation: The three letters Shin, Kuf, Reish which spell the word, “Sheker” (lie), are next to each other in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. But the three letters, Aleph, Mem, Tav, which spell “Emet” (truth), are the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It tells us that there are no half-truths. Truth is from beginning to end.
The Talmud tells that the Talmudic sage, Rav Safra, was not only very careful with his speech but also with thoughts. Rav Safra was once in the middle of a prayer when someone approached him and offered him a price for an item Rav Safra was selling. Being in the middle of prayer, Rav Safra didn’t respond. The buyer, thinking that Rav Safra didn’t agree to the price, offered more. Yet, as Rav Safra still didn’t reply he kept increasing his offer. When Rav Safra finally concluded his prayers, he told the person, “I will sell the object to you for the original price which you offered. For in my mind I agreed to give it to you as soon as you offered that price!”
The Midrash tells the following story: In the vicinity of Rabbi Shimon ben Shatach there lived a young man who had a habit of stealing. He tried to control his bad habit, but time after time couldn’t succeed. One day he decided to repent and better his ways. He came to Rabbi Shimon ben Shatach and asked for his advice. Rabbi Shimon told him, “Take upon yourself never to say a lie!”
The young man agreed to wonder, “How is this going to make me stop stealing?”
A while later he passed by a house whose inhabitants were away and his desire to steal got the better of him. He entered the home and gathered up many valuable items. As he was ready to take them out, he remembered that he promised not to say a lie.
He asked himself “What will I say when I’m asked if I stole from the house? Or if I saw who stole? How will I get away without lying.” He put everything back in order to fulfil his vow not to lie. Moshiach NOW!!!