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Moment of Truth


Over 3300 Years and Counting

You can never win. Many of our readers complimented our series of Samach-Vav articles, which address some of the deepest concepts in mysticism and life in general. Others felt that the articles were too esoteric and voiced how much they missed Rabbi Jacobson’s “special ability to talk about the trials and tribulations of everyday life, and how our spiritual teachings aid us in dealing with life’s challenges in a positive way.”

You can’t satisfy everyone all the time. But you can try. The fact is that the most practical psychological messages – the ones that help us deal with our most intimate conflicts – are rooted in the most profound inner mechanics of the soul and the cosmos. The challenge is to translate these intense ideas and communicate them in accessible and relevant language without compromising the integrity of the original. Most of the time these insights can be expressed exclusively in a user-friendly form, stripped of the inner dynamics that shape the concepts. But sometimes it’s good to see these ideas in their original form, and study the method through which we derive the practical lessons from these esoteric teachings.

The Rebbe Rashab may have anticipated this dilemma. After twenty consecutive weeks of discourses (beginning Rosh Hashana and continuing week after week (except for Parshat Miketz) until last week’s Parshat Beshalach), Samach-Vav takes a break for a few (four) weeks, until it resumes in the week of Parshat Ki Tisa, when the Rebbe Rashab continues the incredible discussion about the nature of light.

After delivering the fundamentally profound discourse (titled Vayeilech) which was discussed previously, perhaps the Rebbe Rashab sensed the need to allow his Chassidim a “pause” to review and absorb the essential ideas expressed in that discourse, before he continued on several weeks later.

And so in this spirit, we take a break from the intensity and unplug a bit as we confront the daily realities of our life’s struggle.

The last night of his life the great Chassid Reb Gershon Ber was asked “what do you look forward to?” He replied: “To a life of no lies and no deception.”

Another Chassid, a ninety-year old man by the name of Reb Aaron Biyeshnikovitzer, would say: “G-d Almighty, 90 years I have lied; give me at least one day of honesty…”

We live in, what Kabbalists call an “alma d’shikra,” a deceptive world – and we lie.

Are we actually lying all the time? Even if it’s true that duplicity may come easily to us, and that many people live deceitful lives, can we say that all people are lying all the time? There are truthful people who do not lie. So what did these spiritual individuals mean by saying that we are living a life of lies?

The mere fact that we live in a world in which can say one thing and mean another demonstrates that the world is inherently a “deceptive” one. In a world of truth two-faced behavior would simply be inconceivable. In a seamless universe, there would be no place for any inconsistency.

Take children, for instance. Before they learn the art of deception from “seasoned” adults, children simply do not know how to lie. The reason is because they do not live in a dichotomous universe. For children everything is seamless: What you see is what you get.

Try to remember the first time you lied. You will not be able to. Why? Because it was a completely unnatural thing, that was not part of who you truly are. As young children, the first time we hear our parents lie or disappoint us, we simply believe them. (That’s why abuse endured at a young age has such devastating effects: It wounds our deepest vulnerable innocence). It takes sustained deception – time and again – to finally jade our impressionable spirits. Once we accept the “fact” that people lie, we become liars ourselves, and then we never turn back. Once we crossover from the world of honesty to the world of deception, we no longer remember the previous world of truth, or even the place and time when we crossed over.

How sad.

Historically speaking, the dichotomy entered our consciousness with Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Prior to that fateful moment there was seamlessness flow between matter and spirit, body and soul – between actions and beliefs. Therefore Adam and Eve were unashamed by their own nudity. Like newborn children they were not conscious of their own “egos” and had no independent sense of “self,” thus their sexuality was seamlessly part of their Divine beings.

After they ate from the Tree of Knowledge, after they tasted and experienced good and evil, their innocence was lost, and now they sensed themselves as independent selves from their source. No they were ashamed of their own nakedness, and covered themselves. G-d therefore asked Adam “where are you?” (even though G-d surely knew where Adam was physically): It was like asking someone who you see “spacing out” even though the person is standing before you. G-d was saying to Adam “where have you gone, where has your spirit and consciousness gone. I don’t recognize you anymore. I don’t see your Divine Image radiating from your being.”

When an entity is completely aligned with its purpose, there is no dichotomy and no room for disunity. Deception is caused by duality – a result of an entity becoming disconnected from its soul, its purpose – its essence.

Mystically speaking, the root of the “deceptive world” originates from the great tzimtzum – the concealment of the Divine energy that is the soul of all existence. Once the source is concealed and our independent consciousness emerges, duality becomes the “norm:” Our agenda is no longer aligned with the purpose of our beings.

So there you have the beginning of all deception. The first deception of them all is actually G-d deceiving us humans by hiding His presence from us! The rest, as they say, is history. Once matter is disconnected from spirit, and form from function, once we are disconnected from our inner selves – we are living a “lie.” When we do not perceive the force that gives us life – the very purpose of our being, our raison d’être – we have the ability to lie to ourselves and to others. When we don’t feel that we are all part of one integral unity, we are able to hurt ourselves and others.

Though we can also tell the truth, we are fundamentally trapped in a world of deceit – intentional or unintentional – a world where the package can completely conceal what lies within, and “sugarcoated” images can indeed be killing us.

But therein also begins our search for truth; our search for our inner self. Our seeking out what makes us human and the entire universe tick.

Because after all is said and done, no matter how duplicitous life can be, there is a voice inside of us that seeks seamlessness and is not at peace with fragmentation and duality. We are disturbed when we are torn apart by scattered agendas.

Integration resonates with us. Truth resonates; dishonesty does not. We feel at home when we are, well, at home – when all of us, our inside and our outside, is aligned.

From the day we lost our innocence, we are desperate to rediscover it. Innocence, childhood, truth, spontaneity, enchantment, seamlessness – these are attributes we adults seek out all our lives.

Everybody has their “Rosebud.”

True love and intimacy – the place where we feel we most belong – is a taste of this seamless flow. Any experience that unites who you are and what you do feels right.

Any this is the power of a moment of truth.

Try to remember the last time you had such a moment? You’ll recall that though it may have been a moment, it is an eternal moment; one that touched you in the deepest place, and one you will never forget.

And if you do forget it, it is only because you have allowed the forces of life to take you back to the duality of existence.

The secret to all happiness and fulfillment is to be able to hold on to your moments of truth; to allow them to carry you through the rest of life when honesty is not always evident.

The key is to never forget the deeper truths of life. Easier said than done. The pursuit of money, power, pleasure and all other obsessions in a post-tzimtzum agnostic reality so consume our lives that we hardly have time for moments of truth, let alone for holding on to them.

The tentacles of the tzimtzum entangle us in a mesh that conceals even the fact that we live in a state of concealment (the Baal Shem Tov calls it “double concealment”).

Yet, it is not an airtight reality. We have many reminders of the inner truth. We have many moments of inspiration. We have music and love. We have faith. We have the resonating factor: That honesty resonates more than dishonesty.

And then we have our children: Those gentle souls that remind us of our own innocence. Our children give us a second lease on life: Through them we can reconnect and regain our own inner truths.

3318 years ago a nation had a collective moment of truth. A fleeting moment, but what a moment it was! The Sinai moment changed the world forever. It introduced civilization to the world.

Such are true moments of truth.

No coincidence that children played a prominent role at Sinai. They were the ultimate guarantors that Torah would be upheld and perpetuated.

Let your children into your life. You may need them more than they need you.


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Anonymous too

“The first deception of them all is actually G-d deceiving us humans by hiding His presence from us!”

If deception is a lie and a sin, how can this be attributed to a perfect G-d? How is Hiding His presence a deception? Is our clothing a deception then as well? I would actually like to suggest His presence is never hidden, for all of Creation reflects His presence. I find your statement ill conceived at best and frankly seems quite blasphemous.


bsd1) I have a child and have noted that lying seems to be frequent from the age of about 3-4. It is difficult to tell whether the lying was intentional or whatever. But it appeared to me that my child had a strong inclination to be self-protecting rather than tell the truth at loss, or share at a loss etc etc. Of course, on the other hand I can clearly notice a strong inclination towards showing love and kindess, caring about my feelings etc etc as well.I just could not find the nature of a child inspiring (except in so… Read more »

Heide Weisel

What I read was very moving and beautiful. My only question is the last line about the children. What if one does not have children? It seems sometimes there is so much emphasis on that that if one doesnt have children they are left out and not considered. Please clarify. Thank you.

S. Minanel

WONDERFUL ARTICLE! How true!!! Do you know why MOT seem more inclined to complain and disagree and in general be more contentioous than others?


Thank you for your sensitivity and honesty so rare in the age of duplicity and mixed messages. Whenever I feel like giving up I think about my children.

Karol B. Feld

Beautiful article! Im so grateful to Rabbi Jacobson for his amazing teachings. I read these newsletters over and over and truly learn a lot from them and Im very thankful for his amazing work. Please continue inspiring us and helping us to understand the truth!


Thank you once again for the beautuful writing regarding truth. It needs to be published in the wall street journal. It is simply the truth. I will pass it on to the many. God bless your work and never let critisicism stand in your way; although you already know that. Blessings upon your lited week.


You write: Mystically speaking, the root of the “deceptive world” originates from the great tzimtzum – the concealment of the Divine energy that is the soul of all existence. Once the source is concealed and our independent consciousness emerges, duality becomes the “norm:” Our agenda is no longer aligned with the purpose of our beings. So there you have the beginning of all deception. The first deception of them all is actually G-d deceiving us humans by hiding His presence from us! The rest, as they say, is history. Once matter is disconnected from spirit, and form from function, once… Read more »

Simon Jacobson

Hi, Thank you for your suggested correction. Regarding the actual issue — I believe that the readers of the piece will understand from the context and tone that in no way was the article suggesting anything remotely blasphemous or disrespectful as saying that G-d initiated deception in the universe. The Divine deception referred to in the article is on a cosmic plane and should in no way be confused with the despicable lies and deceit that humans are capable of. And like all matters Divine, this idea should not be understood in anthropomorphic terms. Its quite clear that people who… Read more »


Rabbi Jacobson, You are a scholar and, like many scholars, you overestimate the levels of understanding of the amcha. I would moreover reiterate my point that if you use the same word in adjacent sentences (deception) you can hardly expect your readership to attribute different meanings or nuances to each and conclude yes, but cosmic deception is on an altogether different plane from human deception if it is not spelled out as you attempt to spell it out below. I still do not understand why you could not, at very least, garbed the word (when applied to G-D) within a… Read more »

Simon Jacobson

All your points are well taken. So, let me ask you: Is prayer — not of tzaddikim but of simple people — an act of chutzpah? What about an anguished mother who just lost a child (G-d forbid) and cries out to Hashem: Why have you forsaken me? Where are you? Do you feel that only Tzaddikim have a right to beseech G-d? On another note: Since you are addressing pshat — have you ever met anyone that expresses emotions of anger, accusations of blame and expressions of chutzpa against the D-vine? There are surely people who may do so… Read more »


Rabbi Jacobson, Surely it is all a matter of how we express ourselves. G-D indulges our weaknesses and our human frailities to the extent that He will hear out prayers passionately expressed even if they are challenging. There is a fine line. The way that, say, the tsaddik Rebbe Levi Yitschak of Berditchev spoke to G-D would not be appropriate for us. But impassionedly asking G-D to grant us this or that (instead of perhaps saying, as we should, You know what is for my good – if its good for me please grant my request and if not, not),… Read more »