“Listen to me, you who pursue integrity,
who seek Yahweh,
consider the rock you were hewn from,
the quarry from which you were cut.
Consider Abraham your father
and Sarah who gave you birth.
For he was alone when I called him,
But I blessed and increased him”… Isaiah 51:1-2.
Those two words – integrity and honesty – remind me first of all of my grand-father: A jurisconsult, father of 14 children, throughout his life he has always emphasized honesty and character strength.
Integrity for me is the state of being whole: morally, spiritually, with one’s inner core intact, sound and deeply rooted in tradition. Other connotations can be found on the Oxford Thesaurus, American Edition: “probity, honesty, honor, rectitude, morality, decency, virtue, incorruptibility, righteousness”…
What is the root of integrity? It lies in the sacred realm of our souls. When we think we are created at the image of God, the Almighty, we cannot prevent from feeling a sense of wonder before all potential and capacity for us to reach the depths of our meaning as human beings and act accordingly.
Rabbi Henry I. Sobel, commented on February 15 Parashah Tetsaveh, with the article: “The Inner Light”: “When we behold the Eternal Light which shines constantly over the Sacred Arc, at the Synagogue, may we remember the internal light which illuminates our being and follows us every moment.”
This is the criterium for us to think and act. It is the inner motion, inspired by the Spirit of God, which opens our eyes for a fair judgement and in accordance with truth. That is the “Law with capital L”, originated in the Bible and the Talmud, and the “Law to be applied,” according to Professor Hanina ben Menachem.
In our world it is not always easy to act with honor. In the corporate world, politics and economics, and other realms, one is often impelled to make a choice between one’s own values and the trend to seek profit at all costs. There is an inner clock which signals in our conscious mind what is the right path. The balance of Justice needs to be a beam in all public and private decision making. Doing the right thing often demands effort, endurance, resilience, and detachment from the opinion of others.
Another way of measuring integrity and honesty is by being true to our values, our soul, our commitments, our relationships. I can recall that my grand-father has never accepted a cause which would not fully comply with strict and sound ethical terms.
We need also instill our values in our children and youth, from generation to generation. It is our deep commitment that when building a family, we prepare them to be citizens of the world and children of God. Our motives need to be straightforward in our interactions. Our faithfulness needs to be uncontestable before the eyes of those who look up to us for a role model in family and society.
Finally, we need to forge our souls in everyday choices, which attest of the rectitude we act with. Our words and deeds need to christalize into a mirror which will reflect truth, wisdom, devotion, integrity, purety of soul, religious commitments and our highest values.
And we all need to be grateful to our Lord for the seeds of truth and trust sown in our path throughout the years. That is the greatest legacy we can receive and leave for our children together with our longings for a peaceful world where everyone will be One in our Lord.
“God of our ancestors, Lord of mercy,
who by your word has made all things,
and in your wisdom has fitted man
to rule the creatures that have come from you,
to govern the world in holiness and justice
and in honesty of soul to wield authority,
grant me Wisdom, consort of your throne,
and do not reject me from the number of your children”.