In the race to speak back, we often forget to think. In the urge to reply, our swirl of emotions often eclipses our clarity of thought. And in the heat of disagreements, our minds often take the back seat.Rabbi Allouche
“Tell me what your words are,” our Midrashic Sages teach, “and I will tell you who you are.”
How true. Our words mold us. They fuel our atmosphere with ‘energy.’ And they are a deep and accurate reflection of our inner character.
Perhaps, this is why G-d warns us in this week’s portion to not curse the deaf (Leviticus 19:14). We may think that cursing the deaf, is permissible. After all, since a deaf person cannot hear our curses, no harm will befall him or her.
Nonetheless, G-d warns us not to curse the deaf. Why? In the words of Maimonides, “because our Torah is concerned not only with the one who is cursed but also with the one who curses, as spoken curses – even those that are not heard – fill our hearts with anger and revenge.”
This powerful lesson is also conveyed by the word for “speech” in Hebrew, “dibur.” Interestingly, this word has a dual meaning. One the one hand, “dibur” can mean “word,” but on the other hand, “dibur” can also mean “bee.” The message is profound: Words are like bees. If uttered positively, words, like bees, can produce honey. If not, words, like bees, can produce a burning sting.
We live in an age in which many feel compelled to voice their reaction and pour out incessant words, to every story under the sun.
The reasons for this phenomenon are many. Some feel empowered by having their voices heard. Others think that it is their social duty to respond to every message, lest their “friends” become offended by their silence.
They may be right. But I beg to disagree. Not every Facebook post is worthy. Nor are they worthy of our likes, pokes, and comments. Not every Tweet is worthy. Nor are they worthy of our re-tweet. And not every Snapchat and text are worthy. Nor are they worthy of our response.
For in the race to speak back, we often forget to think. In the urge to reply, our swirl of emotions often eclipses our clarity of thought. And in the heat of disagreements, our minds often take the back seat.
In the wise words of the 18th century Sage, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgenstern: “All that is thought should not be said, all that is said should not be written, all that is written should not be published, and all that is published should not be read.”