By words the mind is winged. –Aristophanes
In a Kabbalistic view of the physical world, there are four categories in creation in ascending order of importance:
- “Domem” (literally “silent”) referring to inanimate objects, the earth, water, minerals, etc.
- “Tzomeach” refers to things that grow, trees, flowers, grass, vegetation.
- “Chai” (literally “alive”) are animals.
- “Medaber” (“speaks”) are human beings that have the unique capacity of speech.
The Sfat Emet in 5634 (1874) states that humans are at the top of this existential pyramid, but only as long as they use proper speech, elevated speech, namely, words of Torah. This is particularly the case with the Children of Israel who received the Torah directly from God. The Sfat Emet claims that a person for whom words of Torah are not present in his dialogue, not only is he not using his divinely ordained capacity as intended, but he may even be lower than animals. The reason is that we would be abusing our gift of speech, the main thing that differentiates us from animals.
However, a person that does use words of Torah has the power to elevate all of creation, from the simplest pebble to the most sophisticated human and everything in between. Speech has a unique ability to connect heaven and earth, and to transcend the strictures of the physical and material and bind us to the spiritual and eternal.
May words of Torah – wise, sacred and kind – ever be on our lips.
To Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, a fountain of words of Torah, on his receipt of the prestigious Templeton Prize.