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    Truth stands firm – Nitzavim

    The Kotzker Rebbe had a shrewd interpretation of the opening phrase of the sidra, “You (attem) are standing this day, all of you, before the Lord your God” (Deut. 29:9).

    The Rebbe pointed out that the letters of attem, you, are the same as those of emet, truth.

    Truth, he said, is what gives human beings the capacity for standing and stability.

    Even the shape of the letters indicates this; the aleph stands on two legs, the mem has a firm horizontal base and the tav has two legs. The word as a whole, and each of its letters, has staying power.

    By way of contrast, the opposite, sheker (falsehood), ein lo raglayim – “has no legs to stand on”, as the rabbis remarked.

    The shin of sheker, in Torah script, swivels on a narrow base, and the kuf and resh each have only one leg.

    Sheker is bound to topple over, whilst emet stands firm.

    A comforting thought at a very difficult moment in world history when people and nations tell lies without compunction and the injudicious media peddle half-truths without conscience.

    It is hard to live at such a time, and hard to keep constantly vigilant to expose the falsehoods and argue for the truth, but in the end nothing can withstand the power of truth, and sheker is bound to collapse.

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