Tuesday, July 26, 2005

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Good Tongue - Bad Tongue

A nice tidbit from Aish.Com...

If I had been present at Mount Sinai when the Torah was given to Israel, I would have asked God to recreate people so that they had two mouths: one for the expression of the holy words of Torah and prayer, and a second mouth for other matters. But then I reconsidered: if so much lashon hora (bad / evil / slandering speech, literal translation 'bad tongue') can issue from one mouth, imagine how much would issue from two. (Yerushalmi, Brochot, 2, from Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the author of the Zohar)

Rabbi Chaim of Voloz'hin (the main student of the Gaon of Vilna, Torah leader of his generation as well as being a master kabbalist) employs this analogy to explain the power of the words of Torah and prayer as well. We are accustomed to think that when we pray, we persuade G-d to alter the universe with His own powers; our prayers themselves have no effect in themselves other than to persuade G-d. But Rabbi Chaim explains that this is a mistaken impression. Just as G-d created the universe with words, whatever change takes place in this universe also comes about through words. When our prayers consist of holy words that are able to connect with G-d's creation speeches, G-d takes the words of our prayers themselves and alters the universe into the shape indicated by the prayers.

During this time of year, the 3 weeks, it's an important custom to focus on lashon tov, good speech, being very careful to avoid slander and gossip, and speaking only good of others. How important and good our words can be, or, G-d forbid, the opposite.

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