Speech, A Precarious Gift
October 16, 2020
By Rus Devorah Wallen

I’m Rus Devorah Wallen, and I’d like to share my T for 2, my Torah thought for 2 minutes, more or less 😉

Read the full transcript:

This week we begin the Torah anew.  This first portion of the Torah begins with the word, Bereishis, which is usually translated as, “In the Beginning.” The beginning of the Torah describes the origin of the universe that came about through God’s speech.  According to Torah tradition, each of the letters of the Holy tongue, are building blocks that create the substance and form of the world. In the daily morning services, ‘Baruch She’amar,’ is a prominent prayer. The first words mean, “Blessed is He who spoke, and the world came into existence.”  In other words, the 10 main caveats that God said at the beginning of the creation – the “Let there be’s” are the main components that all other words and their permutations come from. These letters and words of Lashon HaKodesh – the Holy Tongue, are considered like the molecules that comprise creation.  Kabbalah teaches that if God were to stop saying the words of creation, the world would stop existing. God does not need a famine or a war or a hurricane or a flood to devastate His world. All He needs to do is withdraw and stop thinking and speaking about us.

Being that we are made in G-d’s image, our speech also has the power to create or destroy. In Mishlei or Proverbs, Shlomo HaMelech – King Solomon says, Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Speech is powerful. The Midrash Tanchuma on that verse brings many Torah proofs about people who spoke ill of or slandered others which caused their death. It goes on to say, “All of the trials that befell Joseph occurred because of the evil he spoke against his brothers, as it is said: And Joseph brought evil report of them unto his father.”  Although everything ultimately turned out for the best, Joseph had to be thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, thrown into prison, and more, and the Midrash attributes this to his speech.  According to the Torah, the world is divided into four primary kingdoms or strata of creation. They are, Domeim, Tzome’ach, Chay u’M’dabeir – mineral, vegetable, animal, and the human kingdom. The word for the human kingdom, M’dabeir, however, does not mean human being, or man, or mankind. It means, speaker. The main qualitative difference between humans and all other beings is that we have the capacity to speak. Speech is the ultimate quality of the human being. We know that everything that is has great potential has the same capacity to fall to a very low place. We know that our speech can be used for benefit or detriment. Life or Death, Health or Harm. May we all use our power of speech to bring life and not the opposite by sharing good ideas, creating good feelings, good moods, and sending out good energy through this Divine Gift of speech.

Speech, A Precarious Gift - Jewish thought of the week graphic