Sivan: Emet (אמת) Truth| Neviah

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New to Mussar or the Kesharim K’doshim approach? Read the intro first.


Emet (אמת) Truth by Kohenet Ketzirah HaMa’agelet

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel teaches, Three things ensure the world’s survival: justice, truth, and peace, as it is said, “Speak truth, establish peace, and render honest judgments in your gates.”  

(Pirkei Avot 1:18, translation by Rami Shapiro – Ethics of the Sages)

Truth.  Since 2016, we have lived in a post-fact world and it’s hard to fathom the impact on us as individuals and as societies.  What is truth?  It is easy to mis-read the teachings on truth and say that we can never say that another is not being truthful and hold them accountable. What we can do, is acknowledge that a sick soul may be incapable of seeing what is an isn’t true.  

The Talmud teaches that truth is one of the three pillars that holds up the world and yet ew know that we live in a time where, once again, we not only allow our leaders to lie to us, but too many of us embrace the lies because they make us feel like we are bigger, more powerful, and “better” than someone else. 

In EverydayHoliness, Alan Morinis seems to be channeling the current mindset of many that saying whatever is on your mind at any moment equals “truth”: 

“Some people equate “truth” with speaking their minds, but speaking your mind may simply be articulating your unexamined prejudice or bias.” 

Maybe that is your momentary truth, but shouldn’t we all be seeking truth that can survive more than a fleeting moment? 

“Avtalyon teaches, Do not mistake words for truth lest you become exiled in cleverness where every well is poison, and all who drink from them will die, and thus diminish the Name of Heaven.” 

Pirkei Avot 1:11, translation by Rami Shapiro – Ethics of the Sages

In Mussar teachings, lying is understood a symptom of spiritual illness. For some it may be a minor cold, but I think we can see plenty of examples where it is a chronic spiritual illness that has utterly disconnected someone from their own soul.  Like many illnesses, it does not just affect the infected person. It is contagious and damaging to the world around the liar.  When we can’t trust what others are saying, then it breaks down our ability to trust anything – including ourselves. 

Rabbi Hillel encourages us to not only see the world through our personal perceptions — but rather to stretch ourselves spiritually to see it through others’ experiences.   

We choose our truth by the scope of our vision.

Lawrence Kushner, The Book of Words

It’s also fascinating and wonderful that “do no harm” supersedes the need to tell the truth in Jewish teachings. So being a jerk can’t be cloaked in a veil of “I was just telling the truth,” because the worst thing you can do is harm another person.  It is better to lie and say you are full, than insult your host’s cooking.  

Truth requires judgement, which requires a healthy soul to exercise that judgement. A commitment to truth, seems to offer up more opportunities for bechiramoments(choice points) than many other soul-traits in our life’s curriculum. Each time there is an option to tell the truth, shade the truth, or straight up lie – we have to think about what the best option is in the situation. Who benefits from each?  Who is harmed from each? What is our real motivation in telling the truth vs shading vs lying?   

Truth is also an exercise, a judgment, and a test. The goal is to live truth according to the guidance of your discerning heart, for the sake of the soul you are as well as the souls of others.

Alan Morinis, Everyday Holiness

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Kohenet Ketzirah HaMa’agelet
Kohenet Ketzirah HaMa’agelet, founder of Devotaj Sacred Arts, is a maker and teacher of the sacred arts. In 2009, she received ordination as a Kohenet as well as a Celebrant of Becoming, a spiritual community she co-led in Washington DC from 2002-2012. She is the creatix of Kesharim K’doshim Mussar and the Eht/Aht: a netivot wisdom oracle, as well as author of several haggadot and a collection of poetry, prayers, and midrash. Kohenet Ketzirah is also known for her work crafting fiber art and mixed media amulets, altars, and shiviti.  Learn more about her work and creations at, and you can find her regularly on Instagram (@devotaj_arts) and Facebook/devotaj.arts.


Rachel Kann
Poet. Performer. Author. Practitioner. Ceremonialist. Seeker, Dancer. Jew. Teacher. Artist.
TEDx Poet Rachel Kann has been featured on Morning Becomes Eclectic on NPR and as The Weather on the podcast phenomenon, Welcome to Night Vale. She’s received accolades from the James Kirkwood Fiction Awards, Writer’s Digest Short-Short Story Awards, LA Weekly Awards, International Poetry Slam Idol and Write Club Los Angeles. She’s performed from The Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe to Disney Concert Hall with people like Marianne Williamson and DaKAH Hip Hop Orchestra. She teaches poetry through UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, where she is the 2017 Instructor of the Year. Visit her at

Kohenet Alumah Schuster
As Shomerit Eish Lavananh, Guardian of the White Fire, Kohenet Alumah ardently witnesses, and gently guides . She enters, explores, delves and honors the often silent vast expanse of potentiality that exists in the innermost spaces between. Whether that be  the space between bodies as she works as a Hospice Chaplain and end of life doula, or helping to find the wisdom hidden deep inside the body as both a somatic practitioner and yoga instructor, or in the body of Torah as she parses thru the letters and the spaces they inhabit . As a certified aromatherapist her ability to scent and sense space helps her to help others deepen the arc of devotion with both reverent and irreverent methods. Her deep commitment to learning through embodiment and text opens others to remove and drop their outer garments and reveal their inner light, under the skin, revealing the true nature and bringing them ever closer to Self and self.

Kohenet Bekah Starr
I am a Sacred Artist.
In creating visual art & ritual I weave the magical, mystical, often hidden, wisdom of the Hebrew people, and the Divine Feminine, in a way that allows me to be a translator for you. I use embodied artistic practices to assist us in being present to spiritual moments.