Truth or Peace?

Intro: Does the tradition prioritize Truth or Peace? If you had to choose between the two, which one wins? Are there times that the winner here (Peace) could nevertheless be overcome by the need for Truth?


(ה) אמר רבי סימון: בשעה שבא הקב"ה לבראת את אדם הראשון, נעשו מלאכי השרת כיתים כיתים, וחבורות חבורות, מהם אומרים: אל יברא, ומהם אומרים: יברא...

חסד אומר: יברא, שהוא גומל חסדים. ואמת אומר: אל יברא, שכולו שקרים. צדק אומר: יברא, שהוא עושה צדקות. שלום אומר: אל יברא, דכוליה קטטה.

מה עשה הקדוש ברוך הוא? נטל אמת והשליכו לארץ, הדא הוא דכתיב (דניאל ח): ותשלך אמת ארצה. אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקב"ה: רבון העולמים! מה אתה מבזה תכסיס אלטיכסייה שלך? תעלה אמת מן הארץ, הדא הוא דכתיב (תהלים פה): אמת מארץ תצמח. רבנן אמרי לה בשם ר' חנינא בר אידי ורבי פנחס ורבי חלקיה בשם רבי סימון אמר: מאד הוא אדם, הדא הוא דכתיב: וירא אלהים את כל אשר עשה והנה טוב מאד, והנה טוב אדם. ר' הונא רבה של צפורין אמר: עד שמלאכי השרת מדיינין אלו עם אלו, ומתעסקין אלו עם אלו, בראו הקדוש ברוך הוא. אמר להן: מה אתם מדיינין, כבר נעשה אדם:

Rabbi Simon said: "When the time came for the Holy One Blessed Be God to create the first human being, the angels of (Divine) service broke up into opposing groups. Some among them say: 'S/he should be created.' Some among them say: 'S/he should not be created.'...

Kindness says: 'Let s/he be created because s/he will bestow kindnesses.'

Truth says: 'Let s/he not be created because s/he because s/he is entirely (made of) lies.'

Righteousness says: 'Let s/he be created for s/he will do righteous acts.'

Peace says; 'Let s/he not be created for s/he is entirely dissension.'

What did the Holy One Blessed be God do? God took truth and flung him to the ground. Thus it is written: 'You will cast truth to the ground.' (Daniel 8:12)

The angels of (Divine) service said before the Holy One Blessed be God: 'Master of worlds! Why do You despise Your seal of truth? Let truth rise from the ground as it is written: 'Truth will grow from the earth.' (Psalms 85:12)

Rabbi Hunah the rabbi of Tzippori said: "While the angels of (Divine) service were arguing with one another and occupied with one another, the Holy One Blessed be God created the first human."

God said to them: "Why are you debating? The human is already created."


Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, quoted in Itturei Torah, Vol. I on Genesis 1:26

What is the advantage of casting aside "truth" while "peace" remained which also argued that "s/he not be created."? When we cast aside truth, peace will prevail. The root of argument is that everyone fights for his/her own "truth". But when we push "truth" aside, there is no longer something about which to dispute. Thus there is no argument, and "peace" has no claim to make.


א"ר אבא אמר שמואל שלש שנים נחלקו ב"ש וב"ה הללו אומרים הלכה כמותנו והללו אומרים הלכה כמותנו יצאה בת קול ואמרה אלו ואלו דברי אלהים חיים הן והלכה כב"ה וכי מאחר שאלו ואלו דברי אלהים חיים מפני מה זכו ב"ה לקבוע הלכה כמותן מפני שנוחין ועלובין היו ושונין דבריהן ודברי ב"ש ולא עוד אלא שמקדימין דברי ב"ש לדבריהן.

Rabbi Abba said in the name of Shmuel: For three years, the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai argued. One said, 'The halakha is like us,' and the other said, 'The halakha is like us.' A heavenly voice spoke: ;These and these are the words of the living God, and the halakha is like the House of Hillel.' A question was raised: Since the heavenly voice declared: "Both these and those are the words of the Living God," why was the halacha established to follow the opinion of Hillel? It is because the students of Hillel were kind and gracious. They taught their own ideas as well as the ideas from the students of Shammai. Not only for this reason, but they went so far as to teach Shammai's opinions first.


בבלי יבמות יג ע׳׳ב

אע"פ שאלו אוסרים ואלו מתירין אלו פוסלין ואלו מכשירין לא נמנעו בית שמאי מלישא נשים מבית הלל ולא בית הלל מבית שמאי כל הטהרות והטמאות שהיו אלו מטהרים ואלו מטמאין לא נמנעו עושין טהרות אלו על גבי אלו:

Talmud Bavli, Yevamot 13b

Though Beit Hillel and Beit Shamai had a disagreement that would have forbidden their children to marry... Beit Shammai, nevertheless, did not refrain from marrying women from the families of Beit Hillel, nor did Beit Hillel refrain from marrying women from the families of Beit Shammai.

Similarly, in respect of all questions of ritual cleanliness and uncleanliness, which these declared clean where the others declared unclean, neither of them abstained from using the utensils of the other for the preparation of food that was ritually clean.


Tosefta Sotah 7:12

Make for yourself a heart of many rooms, and enter into it the words of Beit Shammai and the words of Beit Hillel, the words of those who declare a matter impure, and those who declare it pure.


א"ר אושעיא מאי דכתיב (זכריה יא, ז) ואקח לי (את) שני מקלות לאחד קראתי נועם ולאחד קראתי חובלים. 'נועם' אלו ת"ח שבארץ ישראל שמנעימין זה לזה בהלכה. 'חובלים' אלו ת"ח שבבבל שמחבלים זה לזה בהלכה (זכריה יא, יג).

R. Oshaya said: The scholars of the Land of Israel treat each other graciously when engaged in debates

Rashi [10th c. France] adds: [what does this mean?] look into the matter together, and this one corrects the other politely, and the law comes to light [as a result].


Rabbi Avraham Yitzchok Kook, Olat Ra-Ya, Vol. I., p.330

...true peace cannot come into the world except by means of the value of a peace of many faces. A peace of many faces means that all sides and approaches are seen; and it becomes clear how there is a place for them all, each one according to its worth, its place, and its content.


Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, The Dignity of Difference, p. 64-65

Truth on earth is not, nor can be, the whole truth.

It is limited, not comprehensive; particular, not universal. When two propositions conflict it is not necessarily because one is true the other false. It may be, and often is, that each represents a different perspective on reality, an alternative way of structuring order..

In heaven there is Truth; on earth there are truths.

Therefore, each culture has something to contribute. Each person knows something no one else does. The sages said:

'Who is wise? One who learns from all men - 'The wisest is not one who knows himself wiser than others: he is one who knows all men have some share of the truth, and is willing to learn from them, for none of us knows all the truth and each of us knows some of it.


"Falsehood is partial truth masquerading as the complete Truth." - Rav Kook

(יז) דְּרָכֶ֥יהָ דַרְכֵי־נֹ֑עַם וְֽכָל־נְתִ֖יבוֹתֶ֣יהָ שָׁלֽוֹם׃

(17) Her (Torah's) ways are pleasant ways, And all her paths, peaceful.