The Power of the Word

Shmiras Ha’loshon

For many centuries man has searched desperately for the fountain of youth, the special secret formula that can make you live longer. The gemorah relates that once Rav Alexadria stood in the marketplace and shouted out “man boi chaya, man boi chaya”. -Who wants to live. Who wants to live. Immediately hundreds of people rushed toward him to find out what he was selling. His magic formula was the advice Dovid Ha’melech gave us in tehilim. “Mi ho’ish he’cofetz chaim ,o’hev yomim liros tov. Netzor l’shoncha merah , uzfoteca midaber mirma. su meira vasei tov bakeis shalom v’rodfeiha. The best way to ensure you of a long and peasant life is to guard your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from falsehoods. There is no better medicine in the world for a good, long and pleasant life than to watch one’s words very carefully,

Listening to someone telling us evil about another person and we’re just as guilty as the one who told it to us.

At a time that we hear of so many troubles, so much sickness, so many tragedies, we must heed the advice of the smartest person in history, the wise Shlomo Ha’melech who says in Mishlei “shomer piv uleshono, shomer mizporas nafsho.” One who watches his mouth and tongue, protects himself from all troubles. It’s a piece of advice we must all take far more seriously. Before rushing to a Doctor for a checkup , let’s first check what we say.

(End with netzor l’soncha)

Remember the sages, remember the rules.

Guard your words carefully, guard them like jewels.

Once they’ve been said, though whispered so soft.

The words heard in Heaven, recorded aloof !

Words can be right, words can be wrong.

Words can be mild and words can be strong.

Study these words at the tip of your tongue.

And praises to Hashem will always be sung.

Words can be silver, words can be gold.

Words can be used to shape and to mold.

If you wish to be sure to live very long,

Guard your tongue carefully, never speak wrong.

Words are man’s special possession

Words are a mind’s verbal expression

Don’t carry gossip, watch what you say,

never speak evil, in school or at play.

A Kind word

The gemora in Bova basra tells us that when one gives tzedaka to a poor man, he receives six blessings while if at the same time he also comforts him with words, he receives eleven blessings. Yes, for an extra few words- cheering him up, soothing him, lifting his spirits, making him feel good, feel wanted, one receives five extra blessings. How important words are. It doesn’t cost a penny extra to say them. Yes! Kind words can heal even the most broken of hearts. Did you tell your friend how nice he sings? How good he looks? How well he draws? How nice he is? Try it sometime and watch his face light up with pride.

How about thanking someone for what he has done for you? Saying please and thank you and have a nice day.

The gemora in berochos tells us that if someone tells you good morning and you don’t reply, it’s considered like stealing since you are actually stealing his satisfaction. Rab Yochanan was always the first to greet any stranger he met. What a great character trait to copy.

So let’s always remember that a kind word can travel for miles.

Words should be used in an encouraging way,

Remember to say “Have a nice day.”

Make sure to greet those in your sight

Always remember to be polite!

Words travel for miles over the phone

and bring warmth and comfort to those all alone

Marconi showed how, they can take flight

moving about, at the speed of light.

To use words of praise will do wonders untold

A child will just blossom as these words unfold.

The magical word of Hello on the phone

can bring tears of joy to the one who’s alone.

Words can bring pleasure, words can bring news,

Never forget the “please” and “thank yous”

Make sure never to sound absurd

Carefully choose the proper word.

Words can enthrall, words can endear.

Words can be harmful, and bring a tear.

Words can delight, words can deride.

Words can endanger, words can bring pride.

Say it Out Loud

The gemora in mesechta Eruvin says that Beruria the wife of Rebbi Meir once saw a student learning in a whisper. She scolded him by saying that only when one learns aloud , using ones entire body, will the Torah studied remain with us as the posuk says “Chaim heim L’motzieihem” -we must say the words out loud. We cannot be mekayim the mitzva of Talmud Torah by thought alone. The Rambam says that by saying the words out loud, we will remember them better. So let’s get used to learning out loud. It’s also important to daven out loud, for it helps with our kavona.

Always make a Brocho out loud when others are around for this way you’ll be able to cause others to get the mitzva of answering omain. This way they too get a mitzva.

Words can impress, words can delight.

Words can bring hope, in the darkness of night.

Words can bring freedom, words can enslave.

The words of our Torah teach one to behave.

The words of Hashem are louder then thunder.

The words of Hashem break forests asunder.

The words of Hashem are like flaming fire.

And the words of the Torah express His desire.

The words of our Torah engrave in your mind,

Its wisdom illuminates even the blind.

Lift it up high, learn it each day,

for it will lead you in Hashem’s way.

Words said with a smile, can make sad hearts glow,

It can make you a friend, out of a foe.

Words can bring sorrow, words can annoy.

Words that are kind , will bring people joy.

Words of Creation

Take a look around you. There are hundreds of words floating about. Do you see them? Do you hear them? Of course not! They’re invisible; we can’t hear them. But just flip on any radio and tune into any frequency and you’ll find thousands of words constantly pouring out. They’re detected by the antennae and can be made audible only through the special device inside the radio. This proves that the words must actually be in the room otherwise the radio would remain silent.

However there are hundreds of other words about us, all over the universe, which we can’t pick up. We can’t hear them even with the best radio. The posuk says l’olom Hashem devarca nitzov b’shomayim. Hashem’s words are constantly standing in the heaven. The medrash Tehillim explains that every object in the world and in fact in the entire universe contains the words with which Hashem created them. The heavens exist with the words Yehi Rokia. Light exists with the word Yehi Or. Fire exists with the word Eish. Yes! Every creature and object in the universe contains the words with which they were created. Every atom and every molecule contains Hashem’s words inside of them. If Hashem would remove them for even one instant the object would immediately cease to exist.

The medrash says that names were not picked at random or haphazardly. Odom Harishon choose them with great wisdom. He knew the exact letters and order with which Hashem had created them and called them accordingly. Yes! Everything around us is filled with words. These are the words of Mashe Be’rayshis.

With the words of Hashem the heavens were formed

And with a blow of His breath the neshoma performed.

Each word so sacred, each word so dear.

It fills us with love, it fills us with fear.

If Moshe Rabbeinu would have spoken to the stone,

then klall yisroel would surely have known.

If a rock does obey, though it knows nothing at all,

Then certainly man, must heed Hashem’s call.

Note; first two lines are a repeat from page 4

Words spoken at random without any rules,

are statements of nonsense uttered by fools’

If the value of words were a thing we could count,

then silence is worth twice the amount.

Words said with a smile can make sad hearts glow.

Words that are kind can weaken a foe.

Words can be diamonds, each one a gem.

Words that are truth are the seal of Hashem.

Tefilla

Recently as I was walking outside, I spotted a little bird trying to fly. Every time it made an attempt to get up into the air, it fell down again. As I got closer I noticed that one of its wings was injured, and so it couldn’t fly.

The little bird reminded me of what our Holy Seforim write. When we daven, the words of our tefillos need wings to fly up into Shomayim and reach the kisei HaKovod. Our seforim explain that the wings that propel our tefillos up to the Ribono Shel Olom are the love and fear of HaShem with which they are said. The Ahavah-love and yirah-fear of Hashem are the two wings which lift our tefillos and fly them to Hashem. Without ahavah and yirah, our davening is really nothing more than a tape recording. It‘s got the words but it’s missing the neshomo. It’s missing the wings, the most essential part.

So before one starts davening, stop and think for a moment. Da lifnei me ata omed_ in font of whom are you standing? Lifnei melech malchei Hamlochim Ha-Kodosh- boruch Hu_ In front of the King of Kings-the Creator of the universe. Take a few moments to think of all we owe Him and that we must constantly show our appreciation for everything He has done and given us. A person can only get a sense of ahava and yirah by thinking about everything Hashem does for him. To love and fear Hashem is a mitzvas Aseh mid’oraisa.

If we want the words of our teffillos to reach their proper destination, let’s start doing some thinking.

If we think before we utter each word,

then our tefillos in Heaven will surely be heard.

If we answer omein with our full heart,

It will tear a bad decree completely apart.

When we wake up each morning and can move and can see,

The first words to utter are “Modeh Ani”

When taking a drink or having a bite,

Remember a berocho to always recite.

If our mouths produced words, like the waters of the ocean,

And these words would pour forth, like the waves in motion.

If our lips could expand, to the limitless sky

We still could not fully praise Hashem up high.

Words bring us closer, words can repel.

Words can make friendships, words can expel.

With words one can help, a poor man in need.

With words of compassion we’ll always succeed.

Blueprint of the World

Before building a house, an architect draws up plans which are called blueprints. This shows the builder exactly what to do. How many rooms to make, how many floors to build. Every single detail which will later be put into the building is contained in these blueprints.

The medrash rabba says that Hashem too built this world with a set of blueprints. The blueprint is the Torah which was already created before the world. The first 42 letters of the Torah contain all the secrets of creation, says tosefos in mesects Chagiga. Of course, only the greatest chachomim know how to read these blueprints. They are written cryptically, in a code, so that people shouldn’t chas ve’shalom tamper with the secrets of creation. They sell out the code of life similar to the DNA found in every cell.

The gemara tells us in mesechta Berochos that Betzalel, the master builder of the Mishkan, was no ordinary builder but knew the proper combination and secrets of the letters and words Hashem used to create the world. No small matter, I assure you. So remember the awesome power of words. It was with them that Hashem created heaven and earth.

When a person learns and says the words of Torah great angels are created by each word we say.

If one says “omein yehe.. ” with all ones might, he can destroy even the worst heavenly decree of 70 years. So let’s choose our words properly and make each of them count.

Words are mighty and warm like a fire,

when they express Hashem’s desire.

Words must be measured not carelessly hurled

for what will we answer, in the next world.

Words are eternal, and must not be abused,

So they don’t come to haunt us, if we’re later accused.

Words are our link with our Borei above,

They call us to follow the Torah with love.

The universe Hashem made with ten statements in all,

Those who destroy it, in gehennom will fall.

Hashem’s word can be trusted , we can rest assured,

to give all the righteous their eternal reward.

Keeping Our Word

Did you ever make a promise and forget to keep it? Did you ever give your word but later change your mind?

I’ll call you tonight, Yossi. I’ll give you this book as soon as I finish reading it. Please excuse me but I forgot all about it. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

The mishnah teaches us that leolam lo yeshane odom m’diburo- never should one go back on his word. No matter what one may lose , one should not break his word. The Torah says that “hain Tzedek taseh leca” The gemara in Bovo Metzia explains That ones yes must always be yes, and ones no must always be a no. Once we give our word we must stick to it.

The gemora in Tannis tells us that a young boy once gave his word to a girl that when he would grow up he would marry her. Being that there were no people around, he pointed to a nearby well and a passing weasel to be the witnesses to the promise. Years went by and the boy forgot all about his promise. He married a different girl and had two children. One day one of his children fell into a well and got killed. His other child was bitten by a weasel and died. His wife realized that there must be some meaning behind these horrifying deaths. After all, there is no such thing as a coincidence. Her husband now recalled the promise he had once given to a girl to marry her and that he had made a weasel and a well the witnesses. The terrible tragedy was due to having broken his promise. What an important lesson this story ought teach us. Once we give our word , we must never go back on it.

Words can sicken, and words can bring cure.

Words lend strength for all pain to endure.

For no matter how long this golus has been,

Jews proudly proclaim the Ani Msamin.

Please listen to me, don’t act like a fool.

Don’t get excited; don’t lose your cool;

Calm down a bit, please take a break.

Losing ones temper; is a grave mistake

Words can bring pride, words can bring shame.

Words can bring cheer, words can bring pain.

Words can encourage, words can be cruel,

words are the power that help a king rule.

The words of the Torah are our greatest treasure,

each one of them we must carefully measure.

Use them to soothe and to keep people calm

Never spread gossip for it causes great harm.

Loshon Nekiya

Keep Your words Clean!

Animals can do lots of things better than humans can. Lions are stronger. Deer run faster. Dogs sniff better. Fish swim better. Hawks see farther. Bees make honey. Silkworms make silk. However, there is one thing that man can do that animals can’t. Man possesses the power to communicate through speech. Animals have various other ways in which they can communicate as well. They can howl, bark, whistle, sing, but they can’t talk. That’s why man is called a medaber. His power of speech singles him out above all other creations!

Vayipach be apov nishmas chaim . The targum translates the power of speech as ruach me mallelei. Speech can elevate man to the greatest of heights, even higher then angels, or it can chas v’shalom lower him even lower than the lowest of animals.

The gemara in Pesochim tells us that the Torah used a few extra words in order to teach us to keep our speech holy.

Certainly even the smallest or simplest curse word must never come out of our mouth. Unfortunately, we live in a dark golus, in an environment where we’re surrounded and exposed to the filthiest forms of speech. We must therefore be extra careful and constantly on the alert and guard that these words never become part of our vocabulary. Let’s keep our mouth clean and pure- fit to be filled with the holy words of Torah and teffillah. Be especially careful while playing. Think twice before you blurt out that word. There is absolutely no excuse for using a dirty word. You are responsible for every word you say. There are no excuses that it’s an accident.

Words are like houses they can contain,

sacred meanings or the profane.

If we want them to reach, Hashem up above,

Pack them in fear and wrap them with love.

Words can insult, words can excite.

Words can be vulgar, words can be bright.

Words can exalt, words can give praise.

The words of the Torah soothe like the sun’s rays.

Sticks and stones break only one’s bones,

but words can destroy all that one owns.

Sound travels quickly and reaches afar,

so make sure you’re never, motzei shem ra.

Words of evil can frighten and scare,

words can embarrass and cause many a tear.

But remember my friends, the day may soon come,

that we’ll be taken to task if we hurt anyone,

Freedom of Speech

Try shouting “fire” in a crowded auditorium. People could chas v’shalom trample each other to death trying to get out and you’d get yourself arrested and thrown into jail for causing a panic. Freedom of speech does not apply when we may cause damage or injure another person.

Any word that will harm or embarrass another person , even when true, can be loshon ho’rah. The Chofetz Chaim wrote an entire sefer giving us the rules of these complicated halochos. So don’t be so quick and say, “oh yes, about this person one is allowed to talk. This one is allowed to say. It’s not loshon ho’ra.” Did you study all the halochos? It’s nearly impossible not to be guilty of this sin unless you’ve learned all the halochos very carefully.

s’yog la’chocmo sh’tika”. Learn to remain silent. If a word would be worth a selah then silence is worth two, says the gemorah.

The words that we say, can make us sound smart

from the animal kingdom they set us apart.

Always make sure that they are kind

For they reveal our inner mind

Words are alive, and can be shot like a gun,

their aim is so deadly they can harm anyone.

Once they’ve been said, we’ve lost all control

And if they are bad they’ll bring harm to our soul.

Words can be shouted, words can be yelled.

Words like sharp arrows are swiftly propelled.

Words show if we’re clever, or reveal a fool.

Words are a human’s most valuable tool.

Make sure you think, before each word you say’

Let us not give, our olom ha’bo away.

It’s better to burn in a fiery flame

Than in public to cause our friend any shame.

Words can build- words can destroy,

Words can be pleasant and words can annoy.

Words can bring honor or bring abuse.

The words that we say, we must carefully choose.

Count Your Words

Did you ever count how many words you say a day? Probably thousands! There is no tool a person uses as much as words. They’re the most powerful tool that a man possesses. They can also be the most destructive weapon on earth. It all depends on how they’re used.

It’s like the atom which can be used to light up the world with its atomic power or can chas v’shalom be used to destroy mankind.

If we use words to poke fun of one another, to shame or hurt someone’s feelings or to slander him, it will get us a direct ticket to gehenom. Even Yom Kippur does not forgive for a sin between one person and another. However, if we use them to make peace among enemies, to say an encouraging word to someone in need, to pray or study the Torah, then they’ll get us a front seat in Gan Eden. So let us not waste our words. Let’s make sure we use them constructively.

Words can shatter, words can annoy.

Words can build, and words can destroy.

Words can be used for our protection,

Words can reveal our inner reflection.

Words can be clever and give good advice.

Before you pronounce them, always think twice.

Words travel afar and are whispered by birds,

so use them precisely or you may swallow your words.

A word can belittle, a word can amuse.

A word can cause others to agree or refuse.

A word can bring comfort, a word can give rights.

It can elevate man to the greatest of heights.

A word can bring sorrow, a word can be fun.

A heavy heart lightens when hearing a pun.

A word of reproach is a waste on a fool.

But a word to the wise is a powerful tool.

Words can be friendly, words can bring joy.

Words can depress and words can destroy.

Words can elate, words can incite.

Words can bring peace so that brothers won’t fight.

Watch out! We’re being bugged!

Examine this cassette tape very carefully. It seems to be just an ordinary piece of plastic. It doesn’t seem to have any words on it, or does it?

In 1880, when Tomas Edison recorded his first word on a plain piece of metal, no one thought it possible until they heard it with their own ears. A piece of metal or plastic can contain words? Utterly amazing! Unbelievable! It’s a miracle they said.

But chazal already knew it years earlier. The gemorah in mesechta tannis tells us that when a person will come in front of the heavenly court, the stones and the wood of his house will testify to all that was done within it, Yes! Ordinary wood and ordinary stone can contain words in the very same way plastic or metal can. It just needs a special machine in which to play it back.

So we’d better think twice before each word we say. We’re constantly being recorded by the objects around us. It’s like having a hidden microphone inside our walls. We’re being bugged 24 hours a day. Don’t ever say anything bad about someone else, for even when true, it’s considered loshon horah. Sometimes even good things should not be said about others. If we tell others that Moshe Yankel is a very rich man and has just won the lottery, you may cause everyone in town to knock on his door for a donation. One’s intention may have been good but the result is bad. Always remember the mishnah that says “eyin roeh, v’osen shomaas, v’chol maashecha be’sefer nichtovim.” There is an eye that sees and an ear that hears, and everything you do is written in a heavenly diary.

A word’s like a bird, it has power and might.

It travels through air like an arrow in flight.

Once they’ve been said, though whispered so soft.

It’s heard up in heaven and recorded aloof,

When on the phone, always beware,

Loshon horah never to bear.

For even when true and he can’t sue,

It will hurt your neshama,

so watch what you do.

Words can change colors, can change a face red,

Or frighten and scare you to turn white instead.

Words can poke fun and may not be nice,

For the shame of Bar Kamtza we still pay the price.

Words are compared to the heavenly rain,

they can be beneficial or cause much pain.

When words that are nasty at others are hurled,

they’ll come back to haunt us, in the next world.

Mid’var Sheker Tirchok

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never harm me.” An ancient proverb, yet the greatest lie in the world. Falsely accuse someone of murder and your words are his death sentence. Spread a false rumor that a certain product is not kosher and you can cause the loss of thousands of dollars. Give false character reference about another person in a business deal and you can ruin his career.

The gemorah in Sanhedrin 91 says that there once was a city named Keshuta, whose people that lived there never told a lie or even went back on their word. Nobody in that city ever died prematurely, before his time. Once a certain Rav Tivrumei who was known never to say a lie, married a woman of that city and had two children. One day, as his wife was busy brushing her hair, he heard a knock on his door. Feeling that it wasn’t proper to let the person in just then, he politely said that his wife wasn’t in at the moment. A short time later his two children died. The people of the city realized at once that there must have been a reason for this terrible catastrophe since nobody ever died prematurely in the city. After questioning him carefully, he told them what had happened. Please leave our city they begged him, so that you don’t bring premature death to our inhabitance. So remember; “Midvar sheker tirchok” – even a white lie is still a lie.

Sticks and stones can break one’s bones

But words can destroy whatever one owns

Words can speak wisdom and if you are wise,

Stick to the truth, never say lies.

For words can slander, words can reject.

Words can beseech and words can elect.

Words can reward, words can demand,

Words can enrich and words can command.

Words are a painting, words are an art.

Words must be honest and come from the heart.

Sometimes they’re said with a deep sigh,

And sometimes they’re said with tears and a cry.

Be sure what you say is pleasant and kind,

for the words that you utter reveal your true mind.

Words comfort a friend; words teach things you know,

Sharing warm words is how friendships can grow.

Words said with hatred can easily inflame,

Words said with love can ease someone’s pain

Words said with cunning can be used to deceive,

Words said with wisdom are used to appease.

Quarrels can end and one can correct a lie,

But bad words when spread will never die.

The end of an ox is some very good beef,

But the end of a lie is only more grief.

A lion will never turn around,

when a dog barks and makes a loud sound.

Silence is the very best tool,

it’s the very best answer to give to a fool.

Be careful to keep your word soft and sweet

You’ll never know which, you may have to eat

Words can bring joy, or bring terrible woes

It can bring you more friends, or make you more foes

A gentle word, like the summer rain

Can sooth the heart and erase your pain.

Write your words on another’s heart,

Rather than on marble, when they depart.

Keep your mouth shut, watch your lips

So that nothing unworthy from it slips

Make sure to observe with very great care

About whom you speak, when and where.

Somewhere there’s someone that waits for your smile,

and the words that you say can make life worthwhile

So when you’re lonely, remember it’s true,

Someone, somewhere may be thinking of you.

A careless word may kindle strife

A cruel word may wreck a life

A timely word may level all stress

A kind word can be used to heal and to bless

A drunken mans’ words

are a sober mans’ thoughts

don’t utter words that contain any torts

Count your joys instead of your woes,

If you count your words and you’ll never have foes