by Avrohom Hillel Reich –
מֹאזני צדק אבני-צדק איפת צדק והין צדק
אני ד’ אלוקיכם אשר הוצאתי אתכם מארץ מצרים
Keep your scales monitored so they are correct.. I am the L-rd who brought you out of Egypt.
The Torah implores us in Parshas Kedoshim to be impeccably honest in the way we conduct our business- the weights we use in retail and wholesale trade must be exact.. for if we are to benefit from being dishonest, our entire purpose for being and our relationship with G-d could be affected. We have all descended from the Olam HaEmes (A truthful world) down to this world which the Zohar calls.. Alma D’Shikrah, a world of challenges and falsehoods. But this trip was made for a reason. We are urged to pass the tests of honesty in this world even though they are difficult, for to fail would be tantamount on some level, to the denial of our Creator whose entirety is Truth/ Emes.
The lack of justice and truth in this world, should bother us all very deeply. Integrity and truthfulness are not only noble attributes, but traits that we as G-ds representatives in this world, must value above all others. Let’s learn this lesson together from an interesting parable.
It was a peaceful year in the kingdom… The King, afraid that his citizenry might become a little bit too bored for their own good, decided to initiate an unusual contest!
“ I want to hear a lie… not a regular lie, but the best, most grandiose lie anyone can conjure up and I am willing to reward a large sack of gold coins to anyone in my kingdom who can tell me a great lie that cannot be easily disproven!
The liars; both professional and amateur, tricksters, hoodlums, pranksters and con men, all headed towards the kingdom, to compete for the gold.
But the King was acting with discretion, “I have already heard this one years ago!”.. “Is that the best you can do?” nothing whatsoever satisfied the King..
He chastised his populace- “Even for falsehoods, for utter lies.. you are not successful.. what will become of you?” And he turned one wishful dreamer after another away from his court..
The King sent his courtiers out on fast horses to announce that the contest was current, but alas there were still no serious contenders.
After days of rejection, the King’s court remained empty- no one dared to compete. The fear of being scolded by the King had made everyone reconsider.
“Can’t someone bring me a real good story.. something juicy and clever?.. Is there no one in my kingdom qualified to do so?” lamented the good King.
There was a faint knock at the Kings chambers and the doors opened to reveal a new visitor – the poor old man who lived on the mountain..
Dressed in tattered clothes, he yielded a walking stick and walked slowly towards the King. His ageless blue eyes and shining countenance were recognized by all. In years past, the King and his royal advisers had called upon the old man for his sage advice.
The poor man looked straight at the King. He held a plain, large, white cotton sack in his hands with nothing else encumbering his simple existence.
“What are you of all people doing here? Have you joined the crew of royal liars as well?. Do you desire a large sack of gold? Is material wealth missing in your life?” the King asked.
“No, your majesty, I have come with important news. I am advancing in age and occurrences that have been concealed for many years must now be revealed. I feel an old debt must finally be paid.
More than thirty years ago, your father the King was experiencing financial difficulties. Taxes and other monies had disappeared from the Royal treasury and the King visited me, his unofficial advisor and asked for a large loan, which to this day has not been repaid!
“I have come today to collect the debt.”
The King was shocked.. “Have you lost your mind! Am I to believe that my father with all his wealth, asked you, a desperately poor man who lives on a mountain, for a loan?”
“In any case, Your Majesty , my sack must surely be filled with gold. – If I am telling the truth, the debt must be paid.. if I am not, then I have succeeding in winning the prize you are offering!”
The King smiled and commanded his minister to start filling the poor man’s sack with gold coins. He had finally been outsmarted by someone in the kingdom, but wait.. there was one question that still bothered him.
“What will you do at your age with all these riches?” he asked the old man.
“The coins?.. I would very much like to return the riches to the King if I may- surely His Majesty has some destitute families in the kingdom that can benefit from this windfall. Please spare no time in setting up a fund for these souls!!” the man replied. “But I will not take possession of this fortune.”
“But why?!? asked the astonished king.
“Your majesty… Since we are living in a land where falsehoods and lies are valued so highly and the truth is scorned.. I feel I must never benefit from this prize, for I would rather be remembered as a poor man who treasured the truth than as a wealthy liar.”
The Truth/Emes is Hashem’s seal and He has given it over to us, to carry proudly. We must treasure it, regardless of any losses that might be incurred. It will bring us closer to the G-dliness within and strengthen our bond with the King of all Kings whose unlimited goodness rewards each and every one of us beyond our comprehension.
This closeness is the biggest treasure we can ever receive.