The Power of Speech

By: Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui


The bible commands us, “Do not curse a deaf person.” If the problem with cursing someone, was strictly, the fact that his feelings are hurt, why would cursing a deaf person be a problem, when he can’t hear the curse?  I got it off my own chest.

King Solomon says in proverbs, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Is this statement true, even if no one hears what I am saying?

The code of Jewish law says, we should always send off a person with the words “go to peace” (Lech L’ Shalom) and not with the words, “go in peace.” ( Lech B’ Shalom). In Hebrew the difference, is one letter. King David sent off his son Absalom with the words, “go in peace” and his end was bitter, Absalom was killed. Jetro, sent off Moses with the words, “go to peace” and in the end, Moses was greatly elevated in stature.

Why should it make that much of a difference whether we use one letter or another Hebrew letter, when our intent is clearly only good and positive?

The Talmud speaks of, “a covenant made concerning the lips.” What a person vocalizes and enunciates with his mouth, has a remarkable and tremendous, actual impact.  The Talmud discusses, that in one place the verse seems to imply, that king Yehu was a great saint. Yet, in another verse it seems to indicate not so. The Talmud resolves the question in the following way. Because the king Yehu said, he would worship idols even more so than the wicked king Achav, although it was said only as a ruse, to gather the false prophets and punish them, those words that came out of his mouth  affected his standing in the eyes of G-d and put him in a very negative light.

Once in the times of the Baal Shem Tov, there where two fellows who got into a heated argument. One of the fellows said to the other, if he was able to, he would tear him apart like a fish. The Baal Shem Tov became very serious and had all his students sit around the table. Each one, with their hands on the shoulder of the other, and they formed a circle.  As they where instructed to close their eyes, they saw the one fellow actually tear his colleague apart, like a fish.

The Baal Shem Tov turned to his students and told them. “In the world of spirit, everything we say creates an effect. And spiritually, which is the general source for everything that takes place physically, this fellow actually hurt his friend, with the sharp words he emitted.”

When G-d created the human being, the Bible says, “and the person became a living soul.” One of the greatest commentators Onkeles, translates “a living soul” to “a speaking spirit.” The words that we vocalize and generate, represent the highest, deepest level of our G-dly spark within. The ability to express our selves and bring out to the world what is within, is uniquely ours.

When G-d created the world, He made it with ten statements. G-d wasn’t commanding anyone, when he said, “let there be light etc.” There was no one there to talk to, or carry out His requests. What does it mean when we say G-d spoke?

G-d who is the source of everything, revealed from within, an aspect of his infinite power in the form of light, animals, trees, birds, etc. and this energy that came forth from G-d internally, out to the open, we call G-ds speech. In the same way that G-ds “speech” brings forth actual creative forces, so too humans, who are created in the form and image of G-d, and carry the spark and soul of G-d within,  have the power with their speech, “death and life is in the power of the tongue”, even, when no one is around.

When a boy is born, there is a tradition to make a party the first Friday night, and friends come over and wish well to the parents and the newborn. Once, there was a newborn who was having constant problems. The parents went to a great Rabbi for advice. He inquired and discovered, they did not make this first party.
The Rabbi told them, to make the party and when all the friends would come and offer the traditional blessings, everything would get better.

Be careful with what comes out of your mouth. It’s more powerful than you imagine.


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