The Ninth Commandment Rabbi Michael Weiner
Lo-Ta’aneh V’ray’acha Eyd Shaqer.
Exodus 20:16 Do not bear false witness against your neighbor.
The Hebrew word Anah means to “answer.” Could Anah be where we get the English word “answer?” After all they start with the same letter sounds, but I doubt it. Ta’aneh is (second person singular, future tense) “you will answer,” but the Lo in front means “no answering.” A Re’ah is not just a neighbor, but a friend, or anyone other than yourself. Ayd is “witness,” while Sheqer is “deception or false.” There you have it, “No answering your friend or neighbor with a false witness.
I want to use the rest of our time today to speak on the subject of moral relativism. Do you know why there are quotes on these commandments? It’s because the Lord being quoted. It is He Who is speaking from Sinai. When God speaks, we should take it seriously and listen wholeheartedly. Moral relativism is exactly the opposite.
What I mean by moral relativism is taking God’s moral imperatives and interpreting them based on a particular situation or circumstance. Someone who employs moral relativism would find it fine to lie (bear false witness) in certain circumstances. Telling the truth then, would be a matter of convenience or what that person “feels” is right at that time. Secular humanists believe telling the truth is a matter of culture. They think that if you are part of a culture that lies, then lying for you is perfectly fine.
There is the Hebrew term Pikuach Nefesh meaning “to watch over, preserve or save a life or soul.” By that principle (not the same as moral relativism) a person could lie to save a life. For instance, during the Holocaust, lying to Nazis about the presence or knowledge of Jews. Also, the Hebrew women in Egypt hid their babies rather than turn them over to the ruling authorities who would have put them to death.
In the Bible we have the revelation of God’s plan for mankind. The Ten Commandments reveal God’s ideal for people to love Him and love each other. Any violation of His principles separates us from Who He is and from His creative purpose that we would love one another.
1 John 4:7-8 Loved ones, let us love one another, for love is from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
And I don’t want to finish today without giving glory to God’s perfect expression of love, so the Scriptures continue … 1 John 4:9-12 The love of God was revealed among us by this – that God sent His one and only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. This is love – not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atonement for our sins. Loved ones, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is made perfect in us.
In summary, we show our love for one another by abiding in truth. Witnesses tell of their personal experiences. Anything else is a false witness.