The Power of Verbal Affirmations
When the saintly Tzemach Tzedek was laying the foundation stone of his new Shul, he asked the assembled crowd if they wanted to hear a story. Sensing how unusual this request was, they immediately responded in the affirmative.
He told a tale of a Jewish landowner who leased an inn to a poor Jew by the name of Reb Yaakov. But alas, the tenant was unable to pay his rent. Facing eviction, he turned to his landlord’s mentor, the Ruzhiner Rebbe to plead for mercy. The Rebbe was able to influence him to forgive the rent as long as he would pay in the future.
When the same thing happened the following year, the landlord begrudgingly agreed once more. But when it happened the third time, he hurried to evict his tenant without allowing him any time to travel to the Ruzhiner Rebbe.
When the landlord eventually passed away and stood before the Heavenly Court, they wanted to punish him for having so heartlessly evicted the family of his tenant. But Reb Yaakov protested, claiming that in Heaven they have no concept of the harsh realities of money and what kind of pressure he was under to pay his obligations. The Heavenly Court agreed to have the case heard by two deceased rabbis, but they too ruled against him. The landlord pleaded that they too were no longer aware of the stress that money causes on Earth and thus insisted on being judged by a living court that is still upon the Earth.
At this point, the saintly Tzemach Tzedek turned to the audience and asked: “I believe that the landlord is indeed innocent. What do you think?”. As it dawned upon them all that this wasn’t merely a story, but an actual event in Heaven that was unfolding in real-time, they all responded in unison: “He is innocent! He is innocent! He is innocent!”
Words are powerful.
Jewish mysticism reveals that what distinguishes man from all other creations is his ability to communicate verbally. Indeed, the definition of man, Kabbalistically, is “medaber” —speaker.
Indeed, if you want to get to know someone, simply listen to how they speak. Thus, King Solomon advises us that as you can identify silver and gold through the “refining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his words.” What comes out of your mouth speaks volumes about your soul.
Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. One of my favorite hobbies is listening. I have learned a great deal from listening to people. Most people hear but they never listen.
In this context, the sages explain the meaning of “Man was created in the image of G-d”: Just as G-d created the world through speech (“And G-d said, ‘Let there be Light’ and there was Light”—Genesis 1:3) so too do we create the reality that surrounds us through the words that we speak. Don’t ever diminish the power of words. Words move hearts and hearts change the world. What starts as a sound, ends as a deed. One kind word can change someone’s entire day. Words are free. It’s how you use them that may cost you dearly. The ancient Kabbalists knew of this secret.
The Talmud tells us of how they would use the power of speech to actually create things. Thus, was born the ageless call of magicians’ “abracadabra”, which in Hebrew means, “I create through my speech!”
The Torah tells us how we can achieve atonement for our sins through bringing animal offerings to G-d in the Temple times. But today, without our Temple in Jerusalem, we are able to achieve the same through the pronunciation of our lips; when we recite the words of the Parsha of the week and read about the animal offerings in our daily prayers, G-d considers it as if we had brought the actual animal offerings prescribed. As the Prophet Hoshea declares: “Gather your words and return to G-d…. for our lips will offer the sacrifices.”
As we approach the festival of Passover, we realize that its Hebrew name, Pesach, consists of two words: PEH (Mouth) and SACH (that speaks). The main mitzvah of Pesach is to talk about (Haggadah means to tell) the story of the ancient exodus from Egypt at our Seder tables and to extract its relevance to our lives today.
Because the words that we speak become our reality. Speak of freedom and that is what you’ll experience! Change your word and you’ll change your world!
Rabbi Dovid Vigler
Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens
6100 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
JewishGardens.com | 561.624.2223