Earlier this week Svara’s Queer Talmud Camp was canceled. It is a week long Talmud emersion experience that I’ve wanted to go to for years. When I signed up a few months ago, I know it was at risk, and in recent weeks I’ve been thinking “It will probably be canceled.” Yet when it finally happened, it really got me down.
It made me realize this was the first cancelation in the pandemic that impacted me personally. My kids, my wife, and millions of people have had to stay home and miss life milestone events. While I felt bad for them, somehow the loss of this thing I’d been looking forward to made it that much more real. The Truth of our situation hit home on a new level.
These are tough times for Truth. The Torah tells us to “Distance Ourselves from a false matter” (Exodus 23:7), yet we are bombarded by misinformation from the President, quacks trying to make money with false cures, and friends on Facebook sharing articles they think are helpful with bogus information about Covid.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have news articles and web sites that will describe the pandemic in excruciating detail. As with all soul traits, too much Truth can be as bad as too little. As my example shows, Truth can be painful, and too much Truth can be toxic.
Taking a news and/or social media holiday can be a solution to either of the above problems, to distance ourselves from falsehood and from too much truth. Just as it is permissible to deviate from the truth for peace in the house, we can abstain from “staying informed” for peace of mind.
Another part of the answer lies in seeing the Truth from another’s perspective. These people out there protesting to re-open the country – they are saying what many people have thought, but are going a step further and acting according to those negative impulses. They are in a sense prisoners of their existing world view, which makes me wonder if my worldview is limiting my ability to see something important.
I am still unpacking how best to respond to this challenging reality, and look forward to hearing your insights in this week’s Mussar Community Gathering. Please come with a friend. I’m pondering the following: Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said, “The world exists [kayam] on three things: justice, truth and peace.” [Pirkei Avot 1:18]
Truth, justice, and peace of mind are all having a tough time in the pandemic. Do you agree?
Watch the video recording of the community gathering on this topic here.
Photo by Taras Chernus on Unsplash