Mendy Kaminker
Mendy Kaminker

Beware of your power

This post is dedicated to the memory of the victims of the tragic event in Meron. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families. May they know no more sorrow, Amen. MK

Do you believe that the way you talk to others can have a big impact on their lives?

Most likely, you answered “yes.” We all know that when we give someone a compliment, we can make their day. If we insult or belittle them, we can ruin it.

Now, do you believe that the way you talk to yourself can make a big difference in how you feel?

I suspect you’ve replied “yes” again. We know that our inner conversations are really important. Negative statements such as “I am a failure” or “I can’t do it” will make us feel bad about ourselves. While positive affirmations, such as “I am empowered” and “I can do it,” will boost our positive attitude.

But about the way we talk about other people without their knowledge? Let’s say you’ve spoken positively about someone, and that person will never know what you’ve said. Does it even matter?

There is a profound teaching in Chassidus that says that we can have a strong impact on people’s lives by talking about them – even if they are not aware of it.

Maybe it’s about reframing the way we think about speech.

Usually, we think about speech like packages. If you send a package to someone, that person must receive it in order to be affected by it.

Yet speech is much more than that.

Because speech is about revealing something hidden.

When we speak, we often engage in a process of revealing our inner thoughts or emotions. In other words, speech is the way to take something that might be very personal and intimate – ideas or feelings that we care deeply about – and bringing them out to the open.

So speech is more like an X-ray. Looking deeper, beneath the surface, and seeing what’s really inside.

That unique characteristic of speech, applies also when we speak about other people.

When we talk negatively about others, we highlight and expose their inner negativity.

When we talk positively about others, we help to bring out the beauty within them.

This week’s Torah portion is “Emor” – speak. Just the name itself is a powerful reminder – and an instruction of G-d – to speak, to be aware of the power of our words, and to use it wisely and positively.

About the Author
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the Chabad Rabbi of Hackensack, and an editorial member of Chabad.org.
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