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Living a Torah Life of Honesty and Integrity - Part 3

by Rabbi Paysach Krohn on behalf of the Sefas Tamim Foundation

The Sefas Tamim Foundation is a new, wonderful organization whose sole focus is to emphasize everyday Emes: in thought, in speech and in business matters. On behalf of the Foundation, and in this continuing series of articles, I look forward B’ezeras Hashem, to continue to discuss this fundamental Mitzvah with you.

In last week’s article, we explored the various forms of Sheker, ie., misleading, misrepresenting, failing to keep promises, etc. We saw how our Gedolim lived lives of Emes and how this can serve to inspire us.

In this third and final article, we will address Emes from a different perspective -- how this Mitzvah affects our relationships and the world around us.

Business and the Workplace

In international relations, we know that the responsibility of a nation’s ambassador is to represent his country’s interest – and to promote its values – with dignity and fidelity. We know that as Torah Jews, we are Hashem’s ambassadors. We also know that the “signature of Hashem” is Emes. It follows that it is incumbent on all of us as faithful ambassadors, to represent and promote Emes in all our dealings with the non-Jewish world.

Where and when must we fulfill our mission? Our most frequent encounters are in the world of business. Therefore, it is vital to conduct ourselves with the utmost integrity in business and in the work place. If we fail to do so, we can cause Chilul Hashem, a most serious Avairah for which Teshuvah is so difficult.

Chazal teach us that after 120 years, the first question we will be asked is: “Did you conduct your business affairs with Emunah?” Many view this question as asking whether we were “Ehrlich”, truthful, in our business relationships. Money obtained through dishonesty is marked in the Heavenly Accounts as tainted money, and that taint may not be laundered through Mitzvos or otherwise. No Brachah or Mazal will ever come from money obtained through Sheker.

The Maharsha in Kesuvsos (67a) writes that there were those in his generation that made their money dishonestly and with Chilul Hashem like deceiving Goyim, and then they gave Tzedakah with the money they made. The Maharasha writes that this is nothing more than a “Mitzvah Habah B’avairah.”

Emes and Kiddush Hashem

The Manchester Rav, Rav Yehuda Zev Segal, was once traveling on a train with a Talmud. The Rav opened a Sefer to learn, but was soon interrupted by some noisy travelers sitting nearby. Because of all the noise, they decided to look for more peaceful surroundings, and were able to find two empty seats in the first class cabin. They planned to pay the extra fair when the conductor came by to collect the fares. However, it soon became apparent that the conductor had already passed their area, and now their destination was soon approaching!

Upon departing the train, the Rav’s first stop was the ticket counter in the station. He explained the situation to the clerk i.e., that for a few minutes, he and his Talmud sat in the first class cabin, and he insisted on paying the full first class cabin price for both seats. The clerk smiled and said, “Rabbi, forget about it! The seats were empty; you were sitting there briefly. Have a good day!” The Rav became emotional and was insistent, “No, please, I beg you to allow me to pay the full first class fare!” The clerk saw the look of determination on the Rav’s face. He shook his hand in disbelief: “OK, Rabbi, I will take the money.” He then asked to speak to the Talmud privately, and said: “I have never seen such honesty. Your Rabbi is one in a million!”

What a Kiddush Hashem! But one need not be a great Rav or Rosh Yeshiva to be a great ambassador of Emes.

One final story. I know a family who had a very premature baby and the baby needed blood to survive. The father donated blood and the baby’s brother, who we will call, “Moshe” also wanted to donate blood. There was one problem. The hospital sign said that you needed to be 17 to give blood. Moshe was 16. “But I am in my 17th year,” Moshe said. His father responded, “That doesn’t make you 17. You can’t represent that you are 17 and give blood.” Moshe pleaded, “I know, but I am in my 17th year, let me ask my Rebbie.” The father said firmly, “You are not 17 and no Rebbie can make you 17. You will not be giving blood.”

A week later, Moshe was in a serious accident. He survived, Boruch Hashem, and the doctor who treated him was told that Moshe wanted to give blood a week ago. The Doctor declared, “Moshe had lost a lot of blood from this accident. Had he given blood last week, he would not have had enough blood in his body at the time of the accident to survive the transport from the accident scene to the hospital.”

When Moshe’s mother told me this story, she told me to tell people, “Mi Ha’ish Ha’chofetz Chaim… Netzor L’shoncha Mairah U’sefasheca M’daber Mirmah (The person who wants life should guard their tongue from speaking bad and lips from speaking falsehood). My son is alive today, because last week when he wanted to give blood, his father would not let him say that he was 17 when he wasn’t.”

I would like to thank the Sefas Tamim Foundation for the opportunity in these series of articles, to emphasize the primacy of living a Torah life of honesty and integrity.

For more information on the Sefas Tamim Foundation and its mission of emphasizing everyday Emes, please contact Boruch Delman at 718-200-5462 or


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