Day 39: Netzach she’b’Yesod, Enduring Foundation
אֱ֯מֶת וְיַצִּיב וְנָכוֹן וְקַיָּם וְיָשָׁר וְנֶאֱמָן וְאָהוּב וְחָבִיב וְנֶחְמָד וְנָעִים וְנוֹרָא וְאַדִּיר וּמְתֻקָּן וּמְקֻבָּל וְטוֹב וְיָפֶה הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה עָלֵֽינוּ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד
True, upstanding, correct, enduring, ethical, faithful, beloved, precious, delightful, pleasant, awesome, splendid, perfected, accepted, good, and lovely, is this matter, upon us forever.
(Shacharit morning prayer, translation mine)
So, I started writing my paper for the conference I am hosting at work. The conference theme is “Making Meaning in a Time of Media Polarization.” So I am thinking a lot about truth. There is so much disinformation on every kind of media. How can I separate truth from lies?
Of course I should have a big toolkit. I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on critical thinking. There, I argued that critical thinking isn’t just about logic. To separate truth from lies, we also need political education. We need to understand how metaphors work. And we need to understand our own inner lives as well.
And yet, with all that, I did not come up with a simple scheme for evaluating truth. But today, something new occurred to me. Could I use this paragraph from the morning prayerbook that way? In its context, it’s about the truth of Jewish spiritual teaching. But could I use it another way, too?
For example, suppose an idea seems correct—it fits my experience. And it’s enduring—true not just in the moment, but over time. It’s ethical—acting on it harms no one. And it’s perfected—I tested it, adjusted it, and then tested it again. Does that mean I have found a truth?
Maybe that’s not a foolproof checklist. But if something doesn’t seem enduring, ethical, and correctible, then it’s probably not a truth.
But here is a truth: I do not have all the answers. So, I hope to get some more at the conference. Yes, I’m advertising it! So, here’s a link to a great ARTICLE about it and here’s a link for INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION.
THOUGHT: Do you think that truth is subjective? Or objective? Or a mix of both?
PRACTICE: How do you separate truth from falsehood—what are your critical thinking tools?
FEELING: Do you ever use an “aha!” feeling as a sign that something is true? If so, when, why, and in what way do you trust it?
GOD: Do you imagine (or experience) God or Spirit as a “true” kind of being? If so, what does that mean to you?
Image: Solstice sunset, Jericho Beach, by LDK.