June 18, 2024
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June 18, 2024
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It doesn’t stop! Please make it stop. Wherever I go, it is there!

I open my phone … it appears.

I check my emails … another one.

How much death? Just when you think there will be a lull, another one pops up.

It begins to wear away at you. Maybe even causes one to be desensitized. So much has happened since March 2020. One would think that the most popular word of the season would have been COVID… corona… masks… Well, I must admit those are pretty popular, but in truth, three specific letters come to my mind: BDE, Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet.

Wherever I turn, another person has tragically passed away. Another chat is delivering the sad news of death. People responding with BDE, Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet, sorry for your loss … my condolences…

But what do these words actually mean? What is the essence behind this sentiment? Blessed is the True Judge? How odd. Isn’t it horrible when someone dies … isn’t it tragic? Why not express these emotions? Why does it seem as if we are not expressing this, the death, as a bad thing?

Instead we are using the word emet, truth, when we hear such news.

This thought has caused me to have many sleepless nights. Perhaps if one understands the root of the sentiment we will begin to unveil a better response to the constant death around us. With a deeper understanding we can protect ourselves from becoming desensitized to these all-important messages.

At first glance it seems the focal point of the blessing is the word emet, truth. Sometimes one can have a better appreciation for a word and its meaning when it is compared to similar words or even its antonym.

The opposite of truth is lies and, as mentioned before, most people associate death as bad; is there possibly a connection?

Is there a difference between the terms emet (truth) and sheker (lie), versus tov (good) and ra (bad)?

We first come into contact with the concepts of tov and ra in Sefer Bereishit where the Tree of Knowledge is described as “Tree of Knowledge, Good and Bad.”

When the snake is trying to convince Chava to eat from the tree, he makes two statements, albeit both false, but they touch upon these points. Let’s analyze what he says:

כִּ֚י יֹדֵ֣עַ אֱלֹקים כִּ֗י בְּיוֹם֙ אֲכָלְכֶ֣ם מִמֶּ֔נּוּ וְנִפְקְח֖וּ עֵֽינֵיכֶ֑ם וִהְיִיתֶם֙ כֵּֽאלֹקים יֹדְעֵ֖י ט֥וֹב וָרָֽע׃

“But God knows that as soon as you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like divine beings who know good and bad.”

The snake’s first claim is that Hashem doesn’t want us to be like Him and emulate Him. That is so not true!! We all know the famous directive והלכת בדרכיו; we are directed to walk in the ways of Hashem. Just as He has pity, so, too, we should have pity.

His second claim is that as soon as we eat from the tree and obtain this knowledge of good and bad, we are more “God-like.” Also a false statement! The reality is that it distances us from Hashem; it does not bring us closer.

This point alone can be the basis for understanding the difference between these two sets of words.

Before man ate from the tree it states:

וַיִּֽהְי֤וּ שְׁנֵיהֶם֙ עֲרוּמִּ֔ים הָֽאָדָ֖ם וְאִשְׁתּ֑וֹ וְלֹ֖א יִתְבֹּשָֽׁשׁוּ׃

The two of them were naked, the man and his wife, yet they felt no shame.

Before eating from the tree, and before they had this specific knowledge of good/bad, they were not ashamed to be without clothing. As soon as they did eat from the tree and gained this knowledge of good/bad, they were embarrassed and made themselves clothing.

So what knowledge did they have prior to eating from the tree? They had the knowledge of emet and sheker. The difference between these two types of knowledge is simply opinions versus facts. When you see things through the lenses of good and bad, it is based on your opinion, your life experiences. When you see through the lenses of truth and lies, it is pure facts. It is objective and not subjective.

Let’s explain in a mashal, a parable.

You wake up late one morning and miss the bus to school. You end up coming late and miss the first period.

Scenario A: You come late to school and miss your first class. You happened to have not completed your homework for this class and now you have an opportunity to make up the assignment and the teacher won’t even know you missed the homework assignment.

Scenario B: You come late to school and miss the first period. It happens to be finals time and you lost an hour’s worth of time to take your exam.

Scenario A seems good and scenario B seems bad.

In actuality it is all relative. The truth is that you missed the bus and came late to school. As you can see, it all depends on your perspective and situation.

In Gan Eden, before they ate from the tree, everything was facts. They were naked and not ashamed because their bodies were not seen as good or bad, but simply bodies. As soon as they ate from the tree, their perspective changed and they saw their naked bodies as good or bad and needed to cover up. This specific knowledge distances us from Hashem. It clouds our view of the truth and the facts. Our opinions distort what the truth is.

With the blessing of Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet, Blessed is the True Judge, we are seeing death for what it is: TRUTH. Not good and not bad; it simply is. It is simply God’s will.

When we take this phrase and break it down word by word, we see Hashem in each term.

In actuality, these three words are three separate descriptions of Hashem.

ברוך Blessed: What do we make blessings on? Who can be referred to as Baruch?

Baruch as in ברוך שאמר והיה העולם; Blessed said and there was the world!

דיין Dayan: The Judge; as we all know there is only one Judge! Only one Who truly can judge us completely and knows our every move and thought (kinda scary): Hashem!

האמת Ha-Emet: Truth is the essence of Hashem. משה אמת ותורתו אמת; the Torah is truth and the Torah is Hashem’s words.

The letters of the Hebrew word for “truth” are aleph, mem, and tav—the first letter of the alef-bet, the middle letter and the last letter. What is true of every life? Every journey has a beginning, a middle and an end. So when our journey comes to an end it is E M T; a complete cycle with a beginning, middle and end. Possibly it is for this reason we use the blessing of truth, emet.

So the next time we hear news that warrants the BDE sentiment, perhaps we can see it as Hashem Himself orchestrating one’s journey in a truthful fashion. It is not meant to be seen as good or bad but perhaps we should see this three times:

Baruch: Hashem

Dayan: Hashem

Ha-Emet: Hashem

Jordana Baruchov, a middle school dean at Yavneh Academy, is an innovative, experienced educator. She has a master’s in Jewish education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. Through her shiurim, classes and programs, Morah Baruchov has inspired thousands! She has hosted numerous challah bakes and cooking shows for Project Inspire and Jewish Journeys. She has been featured in the Nashim magazine and her inspirational weekly parsha message, Drink it in !, can be seen on Instagram at @jbaruchov and Facebook at Jordana Baruchov. Visit her website at jordanatorah.com or email her at [email protected].

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