The Rabbis imagined that God wasn’t sure whether to create human beings and sought advice from the ministering angels. The angels were divided. Those representing the attribute of chesed (lovingkindness) insisted that human beings must be created in order to perform acts of benevolence. Those representing emet (truth) insisted that human beings are full of strife and violence and don’t deserve to be brought into this world.
God chose chesed.
But, instead of simply overruling the angels representing truth, emet was cast down from the heavens to the earth and smashed into countless fragments.
Bereshit Rabbah 8
Reclaiming truth is only half the battle. It is incumbent upon us to internalize those ideas, give them outward expression and ensure that they radiate far into the stratosphere.
Unearthing our truths and allowing them to cast influence is known as the act of Integrity, and is arguably the most critical standard of behavior we can hold ourselves to in our lifetime.
Seeking the Authentic Self
Afraid that our inner light will be extinguished or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities from each other. -Parker Palmer
Often, crisis events force us to confront our convictions, and through introspection we claim our personal truths. When it comes to sharing them with others, though, we can hold ourselves back from giving those ideas life.
Over the past few months, our world has been turned upside down and our new reality is brimming with contradictions and uncertainties. Some of our truths have been shattered while others have emerged, and some of us have come closer to discovering our authentic self.
Acting with Conviction
It can be hard to express our personal truth when it comes into contact with other perspectives.
"When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else, you surrender your own integrity [and] become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
How do we hold on to our integrity when we find ourselves in a situation that challenges it?
What gives us the courage to stick to our ideals when there is risk?
How do you believe you present yourself to others? Do your true colors shine?
Take the Self-Check challenge and then read through real-life scenarios where your integrity can be put to the test.
Once you have worked through them, create your own scenarios describing moments when you stuck to your ideals.
The Need to Compromise
Living a life of integrity isn’t always as simple as practicing what you preach.
Jewish tradition clearly values this path but also understands the need to compromise in order to maintain peace.
At times, we find ourselves in situations when our ideals come into conflict with others and we are forced to reevaluate our priorities.