Truth beats Perfection

3 Nov

Wow…Parashat Lech Lecha…already 20 generations deep into the Torah reading….those first 20 go by really fast every year!

For those who may find themselves bothered by some of the details associated with Abraham in this week’s Torah reading (i.e., telling Sarah to cover for him by lying to Pharaoh, or the way he seems to loose his cool in the Hagar affair), I find the following commentary by late 19th century German commentator Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (Gen. 12:10-13) to be of great significance in our understanding of these stories as well as many others in the Bible:

The Torah does not attempt to hide from us the faults, errors and weaknesses of our great men, and precisely thereby it places the stamp of credibility upon the happenings it relates. The fact that we are told about their faults and weaknesses does not detract from our great men. Indeed, it adds to their stature and makes their life stories even more instructive. Had they all been portrayed to us as models of perfection we would have believed that they had been endowed with a higher nature not give to us to attain. Had they been presented to us free of human passions and inner conflicts, their nature would seem to us merely the result of a loftier predisposition, not a product of their personal merit, and certainly no model we could ever hope to emulate.”

 “…we must never attempt to whitewash the spiritual and moral heroes of our past. They are not in need of our apologetics, nor would they tolerate such attempts on our part. Truth is the seal of our Word of God, and truthfulness is the distinctive characteristic also of all its genuinely great teachers and commentators.”

I believe that says it all. Shabbat Shalom.


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