The passuk states “נפש כי תמעל מעל וחטאה בשגגה מקדשי ה’, a person who will be mo’el and sin by accident from the holies of Hashem.” What does it mean to be mo’el? Rashi explains wherever it says the lashon מעילה it means change. The Sifsei Chachamim adds, this means one changed an object from being holy to being mundane, even though he did not have pleasure from it. For example if the treasurer gave holy money to his friend and his friend spent it, the treasurer is liable. Onkelos translates differently, “when a person will indeed lie, and he will bear liability by accident, from the holy objects of Hashem.” Onkelos understands that the lashon mo’el means a lie. The Beiur Onkelos says this is as the Sifrei brings, מעילה is another word for sheker. How does מעילה mean a lie? The Mi’at Tzuri explains when a person lies, he changes the essence of the thing from being the truth to giving it a false identity. Similarly there can be a lie with an action one does. If a person uses something for a usage it is not meant for, that too is like a lie, as one changes the true purpose and designation which the object was meant for, to something else.
The Gemara brings the letters of sheker ש, ק, ר, are near each other, since it is common to lie. Whereas the letters of emes א, מ, ת, are at the beginning, middle, and end of the aleph beis, far away from each other because it is not common to be honest. The letters of שקר all stand on one foot, whereas the letters of אמת stand on two feet, since reason the truth lasts while a lie does not.
The Midrash brings whoever speaks the truth will never do bad. There is a story with a young lad who went after his thoughts and desires. One day he started to feel inspiration to repent and he went to Rebbi Shimon ben Shetach. He said, Rebbi, “I am in pain about what I did and I’d like to repent, what shall I do?” He responded, “My son, I found an easy antidote for your wound which will heal it. Be careful in all your involvements from lying, and you will be saved from any situation that will befall you.” The young boy said, “This is easy.” Rebbi Shimon ben Shetach told him to swear, he took an oath and returned home. That same day he noticed his neighbor going to the bathhouse and his desire overpowered him. He entered her house and took all the gold and silver vessels. When he was going out he thought to himself, if I will be asked by the neighbor whether or not I stole, what will I say? If I will deny and claim that I am innocent, I will be lying, and transgressing my oath. He then returned everything he stole and understood the great wisdom of Rebbi Shimon ben Shetach.
The Sefer Chasidim brings, whoever speaks the truth and doesn’t want to say a lie or even think about lying, will have fulfilled whatever he will say or think as it states ותגזר אמר ויקם לך, and he decreed and He will stand it up for you. HaRav Chaim Kanievsky shlita explained, just as he is careful from lying and only saying the truth, so too in Shamayim they will guard whatever blessing he gives, and whatever he says will become true.
The Gemara says whoever switches his word is as though he worshiped idolatry. The Rabbeinu Yona understands that even if there is no loss of money to another person it is still assur to lie. Chazal says that the punishment for one who lies is that even when he says the truth he will not be believed. The Shelah brings if a parent wants his children to go in the proper path even in private where the parent won’t see, one should pay attention with all his strength to train his children with the middah of emes and make the punishment of sheker severe. There was a certain person who even if he would be given everything in the world, he wouldn’t lie. The person explained, as children my brother and I did something bad. Our father said, “If you confess and admit the truth I will forgive you. Just be careful in the future not to do it again. If you will deny and lie I will punish you double.” And so he did, he forgave and gave some coins to the one who confessed, while he severely punished the one who lied. This trained the children to internalize and attain the middah of emes forever.
May we be careful to speak and think the truth, and may we merit for Hashem to fulfill our words and thoughts.