|"Seekers of the Truth" - Mike Worrall|
It is told that R' Pinchus of Koretz used to warn his disciples: ‘Never fool yourselves! Above all a Jew must be thoroughly honest with himself!’
Once one of his students challenged him. ‘But Rebbe,’ he said, ‘one who fools himself actually thinks he is being honest with himself. So how are we ever to know if we are being honest, or just fooling ourselves?’
‘You have asked wisely, my son,’ the Rebbe said. ‘The answer, however, is simple. It is written in Tanna d-Bei Eliyahu [an ancient Midrashic source] that anyone who is careful to speak words of truth will be sent a malach [an angel] who shows him the truth. One who speaks words of sheker [falsehood] will be sent a malach who fools and deceives him.
So, if you will be careful to always tell the truth, you will never “fool yourself.” If not, well …’ This is a very telling incident. One can live his⁄her entire life in deception, of others and of himself, and not have even the faintest notion he is doing so. R' Pinchus also used to tell his disciples: ‘It is better to choke, than to utter a lie.’”
R' Raphael said: “The Sages teach that the greatest labor of man should be to avoid self-deceit. But how can a man do so when he is deceived and believes his action to be right? By obeying the counsel of his friend, since his friend cannot profit by permitting the deceit to continue. We are also taught that he who labors for truth creates for himself an Angel of Truth who acts as a monitor to warn him of falsehood.”
R' Pinchas said: “He who is filled with self-importance lies to himself and he fools others to believe his importance."
Source: Two Tzaddiks