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Shabbat Parashat Eikev 5780

Ein Ayah: Stable Truth, Volatile Falsehood

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 12:31-33)

Gemara: The letter shin stands for sheker (falsehood), and the letter tav stands for emet (truth). Why are the letters of sheker close to each other (letters 19-21 of the alphabet) and the letters of emet are far from each other (letters 1, 13, 22)? Because sheker is common and truth is uncommon. And why do the letters of sheker have pointy bottoms, while the letters of emet are rectangular? Because truth stands, and falsehood does not stand.


Ein Ayah: It is a major principle that every sheker that does not have a spark of truth in its inception cannot raise its head with chutzpa. Therefore, all the beginnings of sheker, which are themselves truths, are included within the information that makes up the holy letters. Emet is different [in that the letter that represents it is not the first letter of the word, but the last]. It is only from the end of a matter that one can tell that its beginning is actually truth. It is that ending that leaves the good impression. That is why shin represents sheker because its positive part is in the beginning, whereas tav represents truth because the important part is at the end, as the letter tav is at the end of emet.

The difference between emet and sheker can be compared to the lower and higher “avenues” of the universe. Inanimate objects do not [naturally] have one part of them innately connected to another part of them. If parts are joined, it is by chance. If one separates granules from a stone, each one stands as an independent object. Even when the rock was “whole” and connected, it was no more than by mere chance that they were next to each other.

When we go up in the chain of objects, to the vegetable kingdom, there is a more fundamental connection. Nourishment already goes from one part to another, as the organic nature already starts showing its signs. The system of life encompasses it from its deepest roots to its uppermost foliage.

When we advance to the animal kingdom, the level of interdependence and unity becomes of an even higher level. There are different levels amongst animals, as one can cut off the tail of a lizard, and it will shutter. The higher the creature, the more centralized, and the top and the bottom are more connected. This is the secret of their higher completeness.

In the spiritual world, sheker is spread out everywhere, and every thought of falsehood is displayed independently in its deceitful character. Truth, the foundation of life, in contrast, is the ingredient of higher life, and therefore is more all-inclusive, as it flows from the light of the Creator, Who combines all. That is why sheker is made up of things that are close together in a shallow manner and is destroyed when it tries to spread out. Emet requires that there is a unity between the beginning and the end, for otherwise there can be no real connection, like the letters aleph, mem, and tav. In this world of darkness, it is more common to find sheker.

Emet, though, is able to stand independently, without help from things to lean on. Even if truth would not find a place by all people in the world, it would still survive and would ultimately overcome. However, sheker cannot stand, and the reason it lasts as long as it does is that there are people who connect themselves to it. Even something that has one leg can stand if it is nailed to the wall. So sheker is like something with one leg, which sways like a drunkard, whereas emet is like a stable rectangle and therefore stands in a way that falsehood is not.       
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