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How Truth Got a Life

How Truth Got a Life

. . . and how a big truth got real

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The other morning, I woke up to discover a little truth. At least, it seemed like a truth to me, but I wanted to make sure. I figured a good philosopher could help me with that.

PhilosophersForHire.com listed a local expert on little truths. So I wrapped up my truth and went to see him.

The philosopher held the truth in his hands and shook his head. “Doesn’t feel like a truth to me,” he said. I asked him why not. He explained how this little truth just doesn’t make any sense.

“But it makes perfect sense to me!” I protested.

“To you,” he explained, “but not to a philosopher.”

“So who is the measure of truth?” I asked. “Who does truth have to make sense to?”

“Listen,” he replied, “you wanted an expert opinion, and you’ve got one.” Then, seeing my distress, he pondered once more and suggested, “On the other hand, you might want to see a scientist about this. They sometimes have a different set of truths.”

At the scientist’s office, things went somewhat differently. “So let me see your little truth,” said the scientist.

“It’s right here,” I said.

“But I don’t see it,” he answered. Then, recognizing my disappointment, he suggested, “Perhaps you have some other way of verifying its existence?”

I struggled to find some evidence the scientist would accept. Truthfully, he did find the evidence somewhat compelling, but he explained that none of it would fit into any of the current paradigms. “Maybe we can make a new paradigm?” I said. But the scientist didn’t feel that such a little truth would warrant a whole new paradigm. Paradigms, it seems, are a major investment nowadays.

“I’m willing to take the risk,” I answered. “Even for a little truth.”

So he sent me to see a venture capitalist who funded little truths and new paradigms. I showed him my little truth and told him all about how I had discovered it one morning, and what the philosopher and the scientist had to say. He didn’t seem interested in all that. All he wanted to know was one thing: what could my truth do?

To tell you the truth, I hadn’t thought of that yet. My little truth was jumping up and down, all eager to show us what it could do. But I felt uneasy. I knew it was true, but who says it would work for a venture capitalist? Truth just seemed so inadequate in relation to the real world.

So I went home. That’s where I had found my little truth, and that’s where it was going to stay. My little truth, however, wouldn’t let me alone. It kept on pleading, “Try me! Test me! See how I can work!”

I told it, “Listen, little truth, better you just stay at home in my mind. After all, the philosopher didn’t believe you. The scientist couldn’t see you. The venture capitalist wouldn’t invest in you. Who says you will work?”

“There’s only one way to find out!” it exclaimed.

“But I’m not willing to take the risk,” I answered.

My little truth began to cry. “Since the beginning of creation,” it pined, “I have waited to be born into this world. But you will not let me out of the womb in which I was formed. In fact, I am not truth, for I am not yet born. I will never be truth entirely, until someone will allow me to place my feet upon the ground and do something real.”

“Please!” the little truth begged of me. “Please, let me be born.”

So I tried out my little truth. And lo and behold, it had real applications. It worked. My life was significantly enlightened. Since then, my truth and I have successfully uncovered many other little truths—and some larger ones as well. And all of them got to become real.


In case you’re wondering what this story is all about, it’s about Moses and about the spies he sent.

At Sinai, all the people got Truth—with a capital T. But the spies weren’t ready to test it out in real-world applications. They felt it was safer to keep truth inside its womb, in the world of the spirit, of meditation and prayer.

Moses said, “For Truth to get its capital T, its feet must touch the ground.”

“But it can’t!” the spies protested. “It doesn’t make any sense on the ground. Leave it in the air where it does make sense!”

But Moses said, “Truth doesn’t have to make sense to you or to anyone else. In fact, if it is really Truth, nobody will fully grasp it. It is like the challah, which you cannot eat without first putting aside that which is beyond you. Truth is Truth only because it is real, and it has to be real in this real world.”

“It can’t!” the spies exclaimed. “You can see for yourself, the world’s not ready for Truth with a capital T. The world will swallow it alive!”

But Moses saw Truth in all its glory and he believed in it, more than he believed in anything of this world. And he said, “Truth is real, and it will be real, and we are going to make it real.” And, eventually, that’s what the Jewish people did. In every possible condition of the real world, geographically, historically and sociologically.

And it worked.

Try it.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Anonymous 70520 March 25, 2016

Real truth To the torah and to the testimony ,if they speak not accordingly.they have no light in them.Pure truth is pure light,as the holy light from the pure menorah.I hope my aged mind serves me well!No natural strange fire lit it,and no natiral strange sunlight filled it's Holy place. Reply

nina ambrose Perth Western Australia August 2, 2014

Thank you Rabbi Tzvi.Truly brilliant exploration of our fear of revealed truth and continuing Truths .All power to your pen! Reply

Carmen June 19, 2011

RE:RE:RE:Source for the lesson from Challa? I believe that we will understand your(our) doubt only by systematically and/or constantly making Challah and putting aside a portion of it to G-d.
:) Reply

Anonymous Tel Aviv, Israel June 19, 2011

RE: RE:Source for the lesson from Challa? Carmen: you point to the verses that deal with the commandment to separate challa.

What I am looking for is a reference to (the Rebbe's writings – Sichos, Maamorim, Igros, Reshimos, Farbrengens – or to) earlier sources that expand this idea as a metaphor to the fact that a “real truth” can be grasped only after accepting that a part of it is bound to forever remain beyond grasp; that a “real truth” is just too big and too lofty to be entirely understood.

I've seen Rabbi Freeman cite this metaphor in this article, as well as in his video class “If Tomorrow Your Child Asks You” (Lesson 6 at Time 5:05).

I think this idea is nothing short of life-changing, and I would love to have a look at the original sources stating it… Reply

Carmen June 18, 2011

RE:Source for the lesson from Challa? Sh'lach 15:20
15:21 Reply

ruth housman marshfield, ma June 17, 2011

truth and to have ruth Moses knew hevwas part of a Divine Story. Why? Because he was closest to G-d, as it is said. So in knowing this he HAD to surrender to a story far greater that He Must Have Known only G-d could have written. i know this.

The Spies did as they were intended. There is and always has been another story running. We say sub rosa.

Our hero never made it to the Promised Land but he did nothing wrong.

this story is Not over

there is a master key that opens all doors
and this is the most amazing story ever told! Reply

Anonymous Tel Aviv, Israel June 16, 2011

Source for the lesson from Challa? Rabbi Freeman (or anyone who knows),

Where in (the Rebbe's writings or in) earlier sources is the source for the following point made in the article?

"In fact, if it is really Truth, nobody will fully grasp it. It is like the challah, which you cannot eat without first putting aside that which is beyond you."

I've tried searching for this, but without much sucess so far...

Thank you! Reply

Pauline N. Fromer Rome, Italy June 15, 2011

I remember, way back in 1952, when working for NATO in Paris, Air Marshall Darval, one of the founders of NATO, gave a lecture on: THE RELATIVE VALUE OF TRUTH'. So many of us interpret truth in so many different ways.
I shall never forget that lecture. Reply

Anonymous Toronto, Canada June 14, 2011

Beautiful This is Simply Artistic, and Very profound. Honourable Rabbi, you have a True gift for rendering very elegant, simple, and Beautiful, ethical necessity. If Only more people would have the common sense, or at the very least, a shred of courage think in such a lofty mannner!! Reply

Robert Stillwater, MN June 14, 2011

Truth is like faith Faith without action is not faith - it is only what one believes. Belief becomes faith when it is acted upon. That is the truth. :-) Reply

Rosina Panama, Panama June 14, 2011

fear keeps truth from coming out Sometimes fear is one big obstacle for truth, it's what kept ten spies from agreeing with truth and join Caleb and Joshua; big truths or little truths. Thank you, I will work on keeping fear down and let the truth out it's going to be a process I know, but reading this helps me with the faith I need to conquer fear and let truth out...I believe it's what I need like a heaping spoon full of medicine, it will do me good!!!
Yes, I'll do it. I'll try it!!
Thank you!! Reply

Anonymous Lexington June 14, 2011

Who cares For any "truth" there are two crucial questions: how does it make a difference, and who cares about it. Reply

Carmen June 14, 2011

The time was, apparently, not to move on... ...since the divine sign to move on had not yet moved in Paran by G-d.

All seemed blurred,except for that Fire that remained from each evening ,all through the night,when the Cloud was resting on the Tabernacle.

Only that Fire remained-the Fire that illumited our nights,the nights of our souls...

Now,G-d is letting us on our own...

It is that Fire that G-d,mercifully, let remaining to enlighten us,to illuminate the night of our souls when the pillar of cloud rested,it is that Fire that must drive us from now on into the Promissed Land.

We have the resource.The resource is that Fire,now “absorbed”and transformed into our own, that will iluminate our days too, unveiling and transforming the project of our souls into His House. Reply

Kayo Tokyo, Japan June 14, 2011

"We can surely go up and take possession of it.. B"H
We can indeed overcome it"
Caleb's word are so inspiring and exciting. I tell myself to remember it especially when things are tough. Reply

Baruch New York, NY June 14, 2011

Genius Tzvi Freeman is simply a genius. Thank Gd for him. Reply

Kayo Tokyo, Japan June 4, 2010

Nice! It is just like your Baruch Atah meditation. Reply

Herbert Schwarz, MD, FACS Santa Ana, CA October 3, 2008

Truths Rashomon, the famous Japaese story of truths and points of view. It is said that there is no such thing as right and wrong, thinking only makes it so. Reply

kraiz October 17, 2007

hey where are the list of philosophers Reply

Leah Gevirtz Charlotte , NC/USA via ohrhatorahnc.org June 7, 2007

A Little Truth Very well written, impactful and, or course, TRUE> Reply

mendy June 3, 2007

you must write more books - heaven exposed was amazing!!! Reply

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