Friday Candle Lighting: 7:00 pm
Shabbat Ends: 7:46 pm
“A perfect and honest measure” (25:15)
G-d’s imprimatur is Truth. In Hebrew, the word for “truth” — emet — consists of the first, the last and the middle letters of the Alef Bet. Truth is unmalleable, unswerving from the beginning to the end.
Not so in contemporary society.
In 2016, after much discussion, debate, and research, the word elected to be Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year was “post-truth” — an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.
Our society has given up on the truth. It doesn’t believe in an absolute truth, and in its stead it has replaced truth with the demand for “respect”. Seeing as truth doesn’t exist, by definition, your beliefs have an equal validity to mine. Thus you are obliged to respect and give place to my “truth” — seeing as it is as true or untrue as your “truth”.
A case in point is the metamorphosis of the word “narrative”.
“Narrative” means a story. It’s been misappropriated from the world of fiction.
Narrative has replaced the truth. For example, now we have an Israeli narrative and a Palestinian narrative. Implicitly, the use of the word “narrative” in this sort of way denies the existence of a third possibility – the Truth.
When I was growing up, if you wanted to call someone lighthearted and carefree, you said that he was “gay”. In the shifting quicksands of political correctness “gay” has been hijacked to sanitize what the Torah denounces as an abomination – “toe’vah”. Deviance becomes lighthearted and carefree. What a triumph for the spin-doctors!
Oh, and there’s another Brave New Word: Spin Doctors, meaning “liars”.
All the following nouns want to attach themselves to truth, but they all mean lies: poetic truth, parallel truth, nuanced truth, imaginative truth, virtual truth, alternative reality, strategic misrepresentations, creative enhancement, non-full disclosure, selective disclosure, augmented reality, nearly true, almost true, counterfactual statements, fact-based information…
Present day synonyms for the verb “to lie” include: to enrich the truth, to enhance the truth, to embroider the truth, to massage the truth, to tell more than the truth, to bend the truth, to soften the truth, to shade the truth, to shave the truth, to make things clearer than the truth, to be lenient with honesty.
Such are the shifting sands of reality and its linguistic mirages that plague our modern world.
Happy are we who know that there is something called “emet”! Truth. Happy are we who have “a perfect and honest measure” of the world.