The essence of Hashem is emet (truth) as the Gemara in Shabbat says, the signet of Hashem is emet. Hashem judges us with truth, justice, and straightforwardness. This mida of emet is actualized in every Jew. It is an inheritance from our forefather Yaakov of whom it says, “Titen emet l’Yaakov.” Yaakov represents truth. The Rambam writes that Yaakov is called tzaddik because he worked for Lavan with honesty. Although Lavan did not appreciate him and tried to trick him many times, Yaakov continued to serve him faithfully.
On the one hand we say Hashem is emet, which should imply pure justice, yet we find that He also shows us mercy even if we don’t deserve it. The evil inclination tries to convince a person that minor mitzvot and aveirot are not all that important. It tries to convince us that Hashem will overlook them. But this is not true. Hashem is “Kel emuna v’ein avel.” His actions are perfect and just. If so, where does mercy fit in?
The Mesilat Yesharim says that even if Hashem is compelled to chastise a sinner, he does so without anger and with pity. Similarly, the Tomer Dvora writes that Hashem is emet and mishpat but he is also rachamim and accepts our teshuva. Hashem doesn’t punish out of revenge, but rather out of love and compassion. The punishment serves as a tikun, to atone for sins. A person can repent and the sin becomes as though it never existed. A human judge is limited and must follow the letter of the law. But Hashem looks at a person differently. Man sins because he has an evil inclination and so Hashem gives him the opportunity to do teshuva and doesn’t punish him immediately. Emet means understanding a person’s situation; not deviating from justice, but still merciful.
The tenth mida in Tomer Devora is emet, the eleventh is chesed. Avraham represents chesed. He went lifnim meshurat hadin (beyond the letter of the law). Because Avraham exerted himself beyond his limits, Hashem dealt the same way with him. Similarly, if we restrain our natural inclinations, then Hashem too will go beyond the laws of nature with us.
Every Jew should try to reach a higher level in avodat Hashem lifnim meshurat hadin. We should attempt to be patient with others, understand their needs, and view every Jew as important in our eyes. We should love others even if they don’t deserve it, just as a parent loves his children. This is acting lifnim meshurat hadin (above the letter of the law) and it is what Hashem wants of us. The unique attribute of klal Yisrael is chesed l’avraham. When we go beyond what the law requires, we emulate Hashem and come closer to Him.