How far can you be meshaneh the emes for shalom?
How far can you change the truth to say a falsehood for shalom? As much as necessary. Of course, you have to do it in a way that you won’t be caught; no question about that.
בית שמאי אומרים כלה כמות שהיא – Beis Shammai says that you should praise the kallah just like she is. What you see, that’s what you can praise and that’s all. Beis Hillel says no, that’s wrong. בית הלל אומרים כלה נאה וחסודה – Beis Hillel says you praise her by saying she’s na’eh vechasudah, a beautiful kallah. Now it’s talking there about a blind kallah who is limping to the chuppah; she’s going with a cane, a blind limping kallah. And you’re saying kallah na’eh vechasudah? Oy yoy yoy! So Beis Shammai say, “What are you doing here? Midvar sheker tirchak! The Torah says you have to keep far away from lies” (Kesuvos 16b-17a).
But Beis Hillel said that’s the emes. Chessed is emes. And the emes would be a tremendous sheker. What are you going to say, “Look, a blind kallah”? Smack! You deserve a smack in the face for saying that. Saying words of chesed, that’s the emes.
And therefore always tell your wife she’s beautiful. Always tell people that they’re nice people. I’m not saying to do that if you want to be chanfeh them in order to get something out of them, no; but for their benefit always say kind words. Always encourage people. Make them feel good. Always make shalom in any way you can. How far you should go? As much as you have to go.
TAPE #E-147 (July 1998)