Rabbi Simon, a 3rd century AD sage, helps us begin to understand why truth and peace are constantly at variance with one another. Drawing on various Bible verses, Rabbi Simon presents an imaginary dispute in the heavenly courts over the creation of man, of which it was said, “let us [God and the angels] create man.” But the angels were divided over whether this was a good idea. Those promoting truth and peace opposed the idea because they knew that, being unyielding, truth breeds strife, and, being equally yielding, peace produces lies.
The conflict between peace and truth can perhaps be best seen in the Torah, the Law of Moses, the ultimate source of truth. Truth cannot be damaged, or it is no longer truth. This, consequently, is why even a misplaced jot or tittle disqualifies an entire Torah scroll.
Judaism, however, long ago learned from the Torah itself that strict, unyielding enforcement of truth is destructive. Moses broke the tablets because the truth written upon them demanded the destruction of Israel. To avoid this product of truth, the sages...
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