William Hamilton

Talking points

Words hold weight. They matter. When a once respected news organization misreports verifiable facts, violence erupts and people are harmed. And yet, words can be overrated. Yes, they are significant. You’re reading them right now. But their overuse can empty-out their forcefulness.

Consider rocket fire from Hamas and Hezbollah. Rockets have been diminished, in some circles, to little more than a talking point. Watch this NBC reporter from earlier this week. Please, do watch it. This, and worse, has recurred some 8,000 times in recent days. 

As vital as it is to correct wrongful untruths, it’s also vital that we make real-and-present threats as vivid as we can. That is, to keep them from fizzling into mere talking points. 

This week’s portion includes the earliest biblical story about communication: the Tower of Babel. God’s way of disrupting the misguided Tower project is by confusing languages. So language-disarray becomes the remedy. Hmm. Maybe this is another way to commend the power of language: it’s forceful enough to flatten the Tower.

Communicating effectively has rarely been more important. Statements matter. They really do. And so do deeds. 

At each weekday morning service, when completing the wrapping of the leather-Tefillin straps, there is a subtle norm: one may not interrupt the flow of affixing the forehead-piece with the completion of wrapping the straps on your hand. Why? Because there should be no interruption between what’s on your mind and the work of your hands. Simply, the words in your head produce the works of your hands. 

Here are two things you can do this week. Send immediate support to Sderot, where lethal-mortars are fired several times every hour. And join me as we have the tremendous honor of hosting one of the Jewish People’s most inspiring deed-doers of our time. The CEO of IsraAID, which triages disaster relief all over the world this Thursday night. Meet a modern hero who consistently produces life-saving works all across the globe. 

In the coming days, may you find ways to bring fresh precision to your words and renewed commitment to your works.

About the Author
Rabbi William Hamilton has served as rabbi (mara d'atra) of Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA since 1995.
Related Topics
Related Posts