What is Truth?

Yes, I dare to put myself in the company of Francis Bacon, Pontius Pilate, Friedrich Nietzsche and many others, including Jason L. Riley, an editor of the Wall Street Journal, writing an opinion article entitled “The Full Truth About Race and Policing“. There is of course a very simple answer to ‘what is truth?’: Chrysanthemums and Bittersweet.

When I was younger, I thought that Truth was a singular object – there was ONE Truth, and ONLY one Truth. To be honest, I probably thought that way until I was in my late 30s, early 40s, or whenever it was I began studying Torah with different rabbis. One weekend Rabbi Judith Abrams, ז״ל, was a scholar-in-residence at our congregation. She had us read a line from Kings II. It was a very simple line, someone entering a courtyard. She read the line aloud and then asked us to describe what we ‘saw’ as she read the line.

I was astounded. It was a life revelation for me, as evidenced by the fact that decades later I can still see her, see the room, see the other people studying. We all described the scene differently. One line, one action, one simple description. None of us really read it, saw it, the same way. She taught us that we all bring to every and anything our own history and experiences. We fill in the blank spaces of a sentence with our own life. That means that none of us will have identical interpretations.

What is Truth? I’ve come to learn that the answer to that is “it depends”. Truth is not singular. Yes, there are some truths on which nearly all of us would agree, yet if you had each one of us describe that truth, you’d find variations. There is no “full truth” for anything. Even for the things that are ‘cut and dried’ (I hesitate to use the common expression “black & white” these days), there are gradations. We might agree but odds are there is some little detail on which I say “this” and you say “that”. *laughing* Dare I write that THAT is the Truth???

What’s the point of this post? Nothing major. I guess I’m uncomfortable with headlines and people claiming they have THE TRUTH. I’m not sure how productive it is to try to make everyone agree to every single detail of a relationship. I’d like to see more people agree to agree on the majority of the details and move forward to solutions and results. *rueful smile* And even as I wrote this I knew that somewhere, someone does not agree with me and will want me to change MY truth to their truth. Sigh. Stay safe, folks.

2 Responses to “What is Truth?”

  1. 1 Deborah Cohn June 11, 2020 at 8:55 am

    This was SO TIMELY and i needed it this morning. A very good way to start the day. Thanks! Beautifully said. The photos, also, are exquisite btw.

  2. 2 ahuva18 June 11, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    Yes, I know why you needed this today. I was almost tempted to join the ranting on your post. But those particular people believe there is a singular truth. You don’t agree with them. Therefore you must be WRONG. And, I gather, not only are you wrong – but apparently you are morally reprehensible and insensitive as well. Sigh. Obviously I don’t agree. Besides saying that I don’t believe in a singular truth anymore, I do believe people can change. I believe that people are way more nuanced than we usually recognize. I remember a book my father was reading when I was young. It was about Jewish Gangsters and their gangs and crimes. The title? “But He Was Good to His Mother”

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