Tuesday, June 05, 2007

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Very, Very

by Reb Gutman Locks of the Old City, Jerusalem, Israel at Mystical Paths

In this week’s portion of the Torah, Hashem commanded Moshe to send men to spy out the Land of Canaan before the people were to establish their homeland there. The report they brought back misled the people into rebelling, inciting Hashem to hide His Presence and causing them to wander in the wilderness for forty years.

After the spies gave their terribly damaging report to the Children of Israel, Calev and Yehoshua strongly objected to their words. They tried to encourage the people, telling them that indeed the Land of Israel is “very, very good.”[i] This doubling of the word “very” is highly unusual in the Torah. In fact, in the entire Torah we find the word “very” emphasized this way only six other times:

1. The floodwaters that destroyed the world were very, very strong.[ii]

2. Hashem promised to increase Avraham exceedingly.[iii]

3. Hashem said He would make Avraham exceedingly fruitful.[iv]

4. After Hashem promised His blessings to Yitzchak, He told Avraham that He would also bless Ishmael greatly.[v]

5. Yaacov’s wealth increased very, very much.[vi]

6. When the Children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt, they multiplied and became very, very strong.[vii]

These are all of the very, very great things in the Torah. They are either great in severity, number, or goodness, as seen from the subject matter of each phrase:

--The flood that destroyed the evil generation

--Avraham’s offspring

--Yitzchak’s offspring

--Ishmael will be greatly increased (because of Avraham’s prayers)

--Yaacov’s wealth

--The Children of Israel when oppressed

--The goodness of the Land of Israel

Many of us can easily agree that the floodwaters were very, very strong, that Avraham’s offspring have been multiplied very, very much, that Yaacov’s wealth is very, very great, that Ishmael is great in number, and that the Jewish people keep growing, but cannot see just how very, very good is this Land.

Watch Your Mouth

This week we also learn a very important lesson regarding speech. The sages warn, “Watch what comes out of your mouth.” This cautions us not to say things we do not mean. Words are things, and as such they cause things to come about.

Chassidic thinking is even subtler than this, teaching, “Think good and it will be good.” It is not just our words that cause things to happen, but even our thoughts.

This week we read that Hashem punished the Children of Israel with a grievous punishment. He said, “I have heard the complains of the Children of Israel.” They said, “Better if we had died in this Wilderness.” [viii] Then Hashem said, “ . . . I shall do as you have spoken in My ears. In this wilderness your carcasses drop . . . I am going to give back to you exactly as you said. You said that you will die in the wilderness. [ix] Their words became their reality.

“Think good and it will be good.” And certainly say good so that the good you think will become good in the world.

[i] Num 14:7
[ii] Gen 7:19
[iii] Gen 17:2
[iv] Gen 17:6
[v] Gen 17:20
[vi] Gen 30:43
[vii] Ex 1:7
[viii] Num 14:2
[ix] Num 14:29

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.


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