The Power of Life and Death

Credit Painting: Dossy Blumenthal

We know that there is a chain reaction between thoughts, words, and deeds.

Thoughts become words, words become deeds, and deeds become habits.

That’s why it’s so important to develop mastery over the whole life sequence: think nice thoughts, speak kind words, do good deeds, and develop positive habits.  This is one of the secrets to life itself.

My wife, Dossy Blumenthal drew this great picture of the Chofetz Chaim (“Desirer of Life”).  Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan wrote a book by that name and was so called by it himself.

He taught as in Psalms 34:12-13

Whoever of you loves life and desires to seek many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.

And in Proverbs 18:21

The tongue has the power of life and death.

I remember as a child reading the Chofetz Chaim’s books (many that were given to me for my bar mitzvah) always lessons about speaking so as to help, and not hurt others, (i.e. no Lashon Hara–evil tongue) and many, many stories of acting ethically and doing good deeds in life.

He was a truly righteous man and an excellent role model!

Watching your words is not simple. It’s easy to lets negative things slip out. But like a can of worms, once opened, you can’t get them all back in.  So too with your speech, you can’t really unsay something or just take it back.

Life is often in the hands of our tongue–one stupid word and it can mean your head, and one smart thing and it can be, with G-d’s help, your ride to the stars!

Indeed, controlling your words, like controlling your desires, temper, and so on is a constant challenge we all face throughout life. Yes, it’s easy to just let oneself go, but the consequences can be severe for shooting off your mouth, acting stupid, or getting angry.  We can get better with patience, time, and practice.  We can become better, stronger people.  We can learn to guard not only our tongue, but our temperament and deeds, and live a better, and perhaps even a longer life for it.

About the Author
Andy Blumenthal is a business and technology leader who writes frequently about Jewish life, culture, and security. All opinions are his own.
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