“My son, do not forget My torah, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and shalom they will add to you. Let not loving kindness and truth be loosed away from you; bind them around your neck; write them on the polished tablet of your heart. So you will find grace and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in YHWH with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. As you are going, in everything you do, know (yadah) Him, and He will make straight your paths. Be not clever in your own eyes; be in awe of the Lord, and rebel against everything evil. It will be healing and refreshment to everything you are—to your very core” (
Lord, I’ve been spending a lot of time speaking with friends who are well-versed in Your Scripture and reading outside sources related to a very Jewish concept. It’s an idea that has surfaced in pop culture and is summed up in the Aramaic term Ipcha Mistabra, a well-used phrase in the Talmud, which translates roughly as “On the contrary, the reality appears otherwise.”
A recent movie highlighted the concept and noted that the Israeli intelligence community, Mossad, has a system set up in which a group of people are given decision-making authority. One of those people, the Contrary Man, is given the duty of counterthinking the others. So, if everyone agrees, he is to disagree. This approach was implemented after the Israelis misread critical information leading to the 1973 Yom Kippor War. The approach is designed to allow for the alternative: What if we are not seeing things clearly? What if we are missing a critical point?
I confess this kind of thinking resonates with the skeptic in me, Master. You seem to have wired me to be the contrary guy in the room, trying to peer at the puzzle from a different angle to see what’s not fitting properly into place or what pieces might be missing altogether. Ironically, by this approach, You’ve shown me how to find the missing pieces of myself.
Lovingly, You have introduced me to others such as myself and revealed a significant, but subtle blind spot in our methods. I’ve come to understand that some questioners do so only for the sake of the question. To make the point finer, they appear to enjoy disproving more than finding proof. I get it: By never coming to a conclusion, no commitment is ever necessary. I used to be that person…it was safe, and I was always right because there was no wrong. My grandmother would call it arguing with the angels.
Then I discovered another kind of contrary thinking. It was the original kind, introduced by You and your messengers long before popular skepticism existed. I noticed in Scripture that Your prophets and You, Jesus, asked many questions, as well. Your answers also were right side up—from worldly reasoning. “Is my God a skeptic?” I had to ask. As I studied and questioned further, I found something unusual…an answer. You always concluded and committed. You made covenants and gave instruction, giving final form to the unanswered. There was a destination to reach!
Many amazing men and women were persecuted and martyred for this kind of reasoning. No wonder it’s an unpopular approach even today! Because of that risk of rejection by the world, I also was hesitant to take this approach; but now I see that You designed and encouraged me to exercise the Ipcha Mistabra approach. You have revealed that I’m not gifted to be contentious or argumentative. Instead, I’m to be studious and eager, making sure my path matches Your path planned out for me.
I don’t want to appear difficult to others, although I’m sure it often looks that way. I want to assure that all of us who are eager seekers consider as much of the puzzle as can be connected with the ultimate goal of being unified in Your truth.
What is Your truth? I’ve never been fearful of that question or the variations I’ve heard from others. Now, I’m also not afraid of closing in on the answer. As a matter of fact, Adonai, I hunger for it with all that I am. Thank You for that appetite. Thank You for giving me at least a glimpse of the greater picture, and for guiding me toward completion. There is an answer, but now, to the contrary, I’m more convinced than ever of who, not what is that answer. I’m more excited to engage with other like-minded people who enjoy the questions and who are eager for The Answer. Instruct us all in the Ipcha Mistabra ways of You, YHWH.