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Relative Truth

Relative Truth

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A young boy hands his math test to his Dad, with a large red 100 percent at the top.

“I’m disappointed, son,” says the father. “You think you truly know your math? Why, I’m sure if you took a test in college-level calculus, you would fail.” The son is left looking bewildered . . .

Of course, no father would say such a thing to a young child. The kid is only being judged on his knowledge of the times table, not on the math that is above his ability.

The same is true with the hero of the Tanya: the Beinoni (the individual who struggles inwardly but acts perfectly outwardly, not succumbing to his temptations). Unlike a tzaddik (the perfectly righteous individual), he cannot muster up a consistent level of love of G‑d that will permanently silence the desires of his animal soul. He will constantly struggle, and it will take all his efforts just to maintain behavioral perfection.

However, just because he does not fully succeed in his emotional perfection, that does not render his service of G‑d “untrue.” Though his love of G‑d fluctuates throughout the day, he can consistently access it during prayer. G‑d does not expect him to be a tzaddik, or judge him by a level that is beyond his ability. It is therefore irrelevant that he would not pass at being a tzaddik; he is expected to excel at being a Beinoni; that is his truth.

In the tabernacle, one middle bolt secured all beams from end to end by passing through the middle. This is spiritually symbolic of the fact that just as each beam had its inner core, or truth, every person has a level of Divine service authentic for them.

And it is this level that we need to strive for 100 percent.

Tanya Bit: G‑d expects me to excel, but within the framework of the natural ability He bestowed upon me.

(Inspired from Chapter 13 of Tanya)

Sara Blau is a teacher and extracurricular director at Beth Rivkah High School. She is a wife, mother, and author of several children“s books.
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