Exceptions to the Golden Rules
Jewish children, we were always taught to practice the ten commandments, to be
honest and follow the straight and narrow path, accept the ten commandments and
adhere to them, in addition to the edict to not steal or lie. These rules
were ingrained in each young one as soon as the individual could understand
simple language and concepts. There
is a proverb which points to the reason why lying is detrimental:
“Wer einmal lugt dem glaubt man nicht und wenn er selbst die Wahrheit
spricht.” (He who lies once is
never believed again, even if he tells the truth at another time).
As we know, we frequently do not tell an ugly person that he or she has
those looks, we avoid hurting the feelings of fellow human beings.
To embarrass someone is a “Nevere” (sin) so we avoid talking about
what the person cannot change.
are exceptions to the edicts, when
lying is permissible, and we can avoid the truth and have little choice. This as
Jewish people we learned. We
had to lie if we wanted to live when we were fleeing from the Nazis in
Hitler’s Germany. The Germans
joyfully killed and or maimed anyone that had an iota of Jewish blood in him.
The majority of Jewish people could not hide their religion because the
Germans kept intricate specifications of any one not an “arian” (a pure
German). The Nazis kept spotless
records and prided themselves in their expertise.
These birth records were accompanied with descriptions of each Jewish
individual. These criminals took
pride in alleging that the looks, manners, and attitudes of the victims were so
different in every part of their appearance, behaviors, speech, and body build
that they could be found instantly and the “pure” German had the right and
responsibility of annihilating these “creatures,” these nonpersons
(They can be compared to the ISIS criminals of 2015 who joyfully cut off
the heads of innocent human beings).
lies that were created and utilized as described were insinuated into the
thoughts of young children, so that they felt delighted to leave out
their aggression, and hostilities toward
their Jewish neighbors at an early age without guilt and without remorse.
Under the circumstances, was it any sin for the Jewish people to attempt to hide their religion?! The very rare person that succeeded in hiding his identity was plagued by the fear of possibly being discovered and instantly being annihilated. The Nazis had no remorse for any atrocity.
We have learned much from history. There are no absolutes! There are times when reality must be considered. We are a small minority in the world. We have to make an effort to follow our humane and religious tenets, to practice as many as possible of the “caryagim mitzwot” (613 good deeds), avoid and defend ourselves against those who would destroy our brethren and other fellow human beings. To live in Sholom (peace) is essential for all of humanity.