trade old lies for new foundations

Life is a constant war between the good and the bad middoth. (attributes) Each individual is always working on putting their energy into the good middoth (humility, kindness, charity, justice, etc.) and breaking free of their ingrained more natural animal traits. (selfishness, hubris, jealousy, etc.) We slip so often in this conflict as to make us doubt whether we're gaining any ground at all.

The Noam Elimelech gives us a little tip that's both a strategy and a baseline from which to judge our progress: The root of all bad middoth is sheker, lies. If we cling to the truth with all our might, then our bad middoth have no solid footing. If we strike out from a platform of truth we have the upper ground.

The Mishkan, Tabernacle, was made out of the posts, kerashim, that made up its wall. Keresh, (קרש) board, is the same letters as sheker, (שקר) lie, but in a different order, showing that keresh is the opposite of sheker. If we surround ourselves in the truth, the anti-sheker, then we become a dwelling place, a mishkan, for HaShem's divinity in this world.

From here on out we can look honestly at ourselves and see how often we fall into lies. Be they innocent ones or the more serious guilty variety, any lie at all is weakening our position and reinforcing our bad middoth.

I think it is appropriate to bring this connection here:
There are a number of sources that describe Tefillin as the weaponry of Bnei Yisrael. When we bind our Tefillin we are girding ourselves for battle. Now we know that Tefillin are tantamount to the entire Torah as it is written in the Tefillin themselves (parashath Kadesh li kol b'chor) "It should be for you a sign on your hand and a rememberance between your eyes, so that the Torah will be in your mouth." We also know that Torah is emeth, objective truth. When we bind our Tefillin we can have in mind to bind ourselves, surround ourselves, in the truth of Torah, to undermine and uproot all of our negative middoth, that we can serve HaShem and create for Him a dwelling place "with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might." (as it says in Shema Yisrael, another of the parashioth in the Tefillin)


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