Let him who is convinced that his views are true and right express them . . . at every opportunity . . . without considering how much support or how much opposition he will encounter. Only falsehood is in need of many supporters in order to win the day; falsehood must have the authority of numbers to make up for what it lacks in justification. Truth, by contrast, will always prevail, even if it takes time. Noble, courageous and pure, expressed with all the fiery zeal and conviction and with all clarity of sure awareness, stated again and again at every opportunity, truth will ultimately gain respect and admiration even of those who do not accept it. The only truth that can be lost beyond recall is that truth whose adherents no longer have the courage to speak up candidly on its behalf. Truth has never gone down in defeat as the result of opposition, it has done so only when its friends are too weak to defend it. - R' S.R. Hirsch

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Abounding in Lovingkindness and Truth

A rabbi once found himself in the presence of a sanctimonious individual who was decked out grandly in all the rabbinic garb and trappings of a self-styled saint.  Perceiving that this was all mere window-dressing, while the man behind it all was somewhat base, the rabbi said:

"In the Biblical verse which lists the Thirteen Attributes of Divine Mercy, we find the word 'truth'.  This is somewhat surprising, for truth characterizes the Attribute of Strict Justice, middah ha-din, rather than the Attribute of Mercy, middah ha-rachamim.  Indeed, if G-d were to judge us by the strict criterion of uncompromising truth, demanding of us an absolute degree of truth in the performance of His commands, who could possibly survive such a test?"

"Fortunately, though," the rabbi continued, ""the attribute of truth is sometimes itself an attribute of mercy.  Let us suppose the Almighty sees a man who passes himself off as a saint , flaunting the cloak of a sage, and garments of purest white.  One might expect the Almighty to judge such a man according to the exacting standards demanded of righteousness.  In fact, though, He judges him only according to the measure of truth - according to such a man's truthful measure - for He sees what goes on inside His heart, and knows in fact that he is nothing more than a simple, base fellow."

"And this answers our question as to what 'truth' is doing in a list of merciful attributes.  For what greater demonstration of mercy and lovingkindess could there be, than the fact that G-d judges such a man according to his true measure?"  


  1. Which Biblical verse lists the Thirteen Attributes of Divine Mercy?

  2. Exodus 34:6-7

    1. Hashem (yod-heh-vav-heh)

    By this name G-d announced and revealed Himself to us after He had created the world and as the continuing Creator in the history of mankind.

    2. El (G-d)

    The first cause of all movement, power that gives power.

    3. Rachum (Loving)

    After animating his creatures with movement and power, He never forsakes them, but continually sustains them with loving care (related to "rechem" a mother's womb).

    4. Chanun (Favor)

    He replenishes His Creation with increased power and might ("chanun" is related to word for "cloud" which showers blessing upon the earth).

    5. Erech Apayim (Long Suffering)

    He is forbearing and waits patiently, while giving strength to the weary. He waits expectantly to see the fruit of moral perfection while maintaining His love for those who ignoble and incomplete. In other words, He remembers that we are but dust and strengthens us accordingly.

    6. Rav Chesed (Abundant in Lovingkindness)

    He shows boundless love to every single soul, while giving each his own particular kind of satisfaction and joy. (Chesed: complete devotion to the welfare of another and related to the word for "overflow", devotion to another's welfare through utter selflessness; it is the highest expression for the lover and kindness that G-d shows His creatures).

    7. Rav Emet (Abundant in Truth)

    In equally great measure, in accordance with the fullness of His love and devotion, He is faithful to the truth - His Own truth and the truth of the recipient of His blessing, Unlike us, G-d's love never loses sight of what is truly best for His creatures. He may deny granting us what we want , if granting it would endanger the true objective and the true blessing, while His denial would achieve them. Our sages teach us that even when He opens His hand to bestow abundant blessings, It is His prerogative to restrain His hand from giving everything, so that blessing shall not corrupt the recipient and make him unworthy of blessing. As a loving father, he educates and disciplines each one of us accordingly.

    8. Notzer Chesed La'alapim (Preserving Chesed for the Thousandth Generation)

    He does not restrict His blessing to those who are worthy. The rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous alike. His blessing on one person or on one nation cannot be measured by the standard of the individual or by the standard of the times. The full extent of the love that is showered on good people can be gauged only by one who can calculate all the blessing that G-d providence will bring forth from the lives and endeavors of good people, especially to their children and their children's children right down to the thousandth generation. In other words, the seed of blessing sometimes remains hidden in the darkness, like a bud that has not yet flowered; but later, in the lifetimes of the children or grandchildren, the blessing springs forth in double-strength. G-d makes His love a source of blessing for all his descendants. (Notzer: related to "netzer" the bud which encloses and protects the flower and the fruit until they blossom. BTW, Yeshua was called a "Netzer" according to the Gospels.

  3. 9. Noshe Avon (Lifting Away Crookedness)

    He lifts the burden of sin off of the shoulders of the true penitent who desires atonement.

    10. Noshe Vafesah (Lifting Away Rebellion)

    G-d lifts off the great burden of rebellion.

    11. Noshe Hata'ah (Lifting Away Carelessness)

    G-d raises the sinful act - whether done unintentionally, carelessly, in willful opposition to the Torah. Every transgression serves to bring a curse upon our external life and every sin begets another. Repentance in conjunction with the atonement He has provided, however, nullifies the consequences of sin, inclines our ear to hear His voice, redirects the minds of the careless to the seriousness of our call, and frees us from the burden of sin that so easily entangles and besets us.

    12. V'nakeh Lo y'nakeh (Excuses Nothing)

    He will not clear the sinner from even the smallest of his sins, unless he turns his mind to repentance. If the sinner does not sincerely repent and determine to change his ways, even the smallest of sins will bring severe punishment.

    13. Pokeyd Avon Avot (Remembers the Crookedness of Parents)

    Just as the righteous lives of the parents becomes a tree of life that bears fruit, so too the un-atoned sins bring punishment and suffering upon children to the fourth generation of those that would continue to hate and oppose Him.

    These are the attributes through which G-d reveals Himself. These are the attributes which G-d proclaimed unto Moses as He passed by Moses in the cleft of the rock. Exactly what Moses saw is not revealed to us, but we do have a record of the words, the "Names,", the attributes, by which the vision he beheld was explained to him a.k.a. the Thirteen Attributes of Divine Mercy.

    I hope this was helpful to you.

  4. Yes very helpful. You could have told me it was an extended exegetical exercise and I would have understood. By doing the work you provided me with another example of a thought process that I am trying to grasp.

    Thank you