Thursday, August 28, 2014

Judaism's Top 40: Elul 5 and #35 Emet and Emunah

Judaism's Top 40!

Today: Elul 5 - and #36 of Judaism's Top 40:

Emet and Emunah

Emet - Truth  / Emunah - Faith

The Hebrew word for truth is Emet. Alef-mem-tav. Amazingly, it is comprised of the first, middle and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In contrast, the letters for the word Sheker, which means "lie," shin, kuf, resh, are huddled together in a corner at the end of the alphabet. Emet, like "Amen," is derived from the root letters meaning "firm." Truth is tangible and real and all-encompassing. It expands our minds rather than confining us to narrow perspectives. "Emet" calls upon us to seek out truth to the outermost reaches of the universe and the innermost depths of our soul. The word "Emet" is found often in our daily prayers; it is repeated seven times, almost mantra-like just in the two pages between the morning Sh'ma and the Amida.

The word for "trust" is from the same family as Emet and Amen. It is "Emunah." In the evening service, the prayer just after the Sh'ma begins with those two words, interlocked, Emet V'Emunah," truth and trust. They go hand in hand. In the morning service only the word Emet" appears. The Talmud explains why the word Emunah is added for the evening service, referring to Psalm 92, which states, "It is good to give thanks unto God and to declare your trustworthiness at night (emunatecha balaylot)." Why do we affirm that trust at night? Because it's dark! When things are dark and murky, the truth is much more difficult to discern. When things are not black and white, we have to rely on trust.

To catch up on prior entries, click here.  Our countdown continues!

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