A Torah Jew must be the embodiment of emes, truth. Integrity – both moral and spiritual – must be reflected in his every demeanor. The image of a Torah Jew bespeaks emes under all conditions and circumstances. There is no other way. Hashem’s chosam, seal, is emes. Since we are to emulate the Almighty, we must strive to achieve perfection in this character trait. What is this emes? How does one achieve the appellation ish emes, a man of truth?
The roshei teivos, three letters of emes—aleph, mem, tav — are an acronym for the three yesodos, principles, to which a Jew must adhere and by which he must live: Aleph – emunah, faith (in Hashem) mem, mitzvos; tav, Torah. A Jew who is faithful, studies Torah diligently and performs mitzvos, lives by the rule of emes. He is an ish emes. Indeed, a Jew’s life should revolve around these three principles.
The Melitzer Rebbe, Shlita, comments that, regrettably, some Jews question the need to adhere to all three of these principles. Perhaps one may slack off in one. What if a Jew were to be faithful and mitzvah observant? He is not much of a learner, always finding an excuse to escape being tied down to the bais hamedrash. He leaves the learning to others whom he feels are more competent. There is also the Jew who maintains a strong affiliation with emunah. He is even a learner, spending most of his free time in the bais hamedrash studying Torah. It is just that when it comes to mitzvah observance, he is not that adherent. He is certainly not a sinner. It is just that when opportunities to perform chesed, kindness to others, charity and other wonderful social justice mitzvos appear, he is not to be found.
It is regarding such a Jew who is concerned with the im – aleph, mem; or es – aleph, tav, that the Torah says, Im bechukosai teileichu v’es mitzvosai tishmaru va’asissem osam, Emunah and mitzvos without Torah study leaves a person an ‘im’ Jew, who can only function if the ‘im’ is followed with bechukosai teileichu, ‘Walk in My statutes,’ which Rashi interprets as Shetiheyu ameilim batorah, that you will toil in Torah. One must round off his emunah and mitzvah performance with Torah study. Otherwise, he is not emes; he remains a spiritual cripple.
Likewise, the “es” Jew, who has emunah and studies Torah, but is deficient in his mitzvah observance, he is told, es mitzvosai tishmoru; the “es” Jew must observe mitzvos, or, he, too, will be handicapped in his Jewishness.
We have just addressed the Jew who observes mitzvos and has faith in Hashem; he lacks Torah study. We have also dealt with the Jew who is faithful, studies Torah, but is lax in his mitzvah observance. What about the Jew who lacks faith? He observes mitzvos and studies Torah, but has difficulty maintaining his faith in Hashem. The Torah does not seem to allude to such a Jew. The Rebbe explains that the acronym for mitzvos (observance) and Torah (study) is meis, dead. Such a person is considered spiritually deceased. The only solution is va’asisem osam – aleph, tav, mem; you must add emunah to resuscitate him and bring him back to the world of living.