Be Careful What You Say

From the time Moses is born until the end of the Torah, he is mentioned in each and every Parsha. Except this one. Why is that?

In next week’s Torah reading, the Jews sin with the Golden Calf. G-d threatens to kill ALL the Jews except for Moses and his family and then restart the Jewish Nation from him. Moses doesn’t like that idea and says that if G-d doesn’t forgive the Jewish people, then “…erase me from this book!”

G-d did forgive the Jewish people, but the words of Moses came true. However, G-d in His mercy decided to leave his name in most of the Torah and only erase his name from this one Parsha called “Tetzaveh.”

We can learn from this that one has to be very careful with his words because speech is very powerful. After all, G-d created the World and the entire Universe with speech. In our case, even though Moses made his words conditional and the trigger condition didn’t happen (because G-d forgave the Jewish people), the result still happened (and his name was erased).

The Gemora tells the story of a man who deposited a gold coin by a widow for safe keeping. The woman hid the coin at the bottom of a container of flour, and after some time she forgot about it and then used the flower to bake bread – with the coin in the dough and the woman none-the-wiser! She then did the mitzvah of feeding the poor by giving this loaf of bread to a poor person. When the owner of the coin came back to collect it, she could not find it. A discussion ensured, and in order to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that she had not taken the coin, she swore, “If I benefited from that coin, then may one of my children die from poison!” Unfortunately, her words came true and the next day one of her children died.

It sounds ridiculous to make a statement about one’s own children dying, but I remember people of my own generation saying similar statements such as, “Cross my heart and hope to die if I should ever tell a lie!” While a person might be saying these words casually, without even any thought, THEY HAVE MEANING!

My Rabbi tells the story of when he was a kid in yeshiva. He got into a heated discussion with his Gentile English teacher and said words to the effect, “If your father died tomorrow, would you do such and such?” The next day the teacher came into class completely lost and said that he was cancelling the class because his father suddenly died!

When a tragedy happens (perhaps the contraction of a “fatal” disease; the loss of a loved one; or the loss of massive amounts of money), a person might feel so overwhelmed that they state, “My life is over. I am ruined. Finished. There is no point in going on.” These words effectively curse the one stating them and can “lock in” the disaster, ensuring that it comes true.

Instead of cursing oneself or others, we all need to work on POSITIVITY. Don’t say, “I will never get married” or “I will never have children” or “I will never heal from this disease.” Such language can only make the situation worse. Instead, take on positivity, “I WILL get married.” “I WILL have children.” “I WILL get better.” Saying these words about oneself or about others will have a positive effect, and G-d will hopefully fulfill these words.

(based on a class given by Rabbi Yisroel Brog)

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