Words that can REDEEM

Moshe Kempinski

Torah Portion ; Matot (Numbers 30:2-32:42)

The Torah portion of Matot (Numbers 30:2-32:42)is read this week with the portion of Maassei(Numbers 33:1-36:13). In Mattot we hear of the admonitions regarding vows, oaths and obligations.

We read of the implications and difficulties that arise from the improper use of utterances and vows. The Hebrew words used to describe these actions almost imply a careless blurting out of promises . Statements like “whatever came out of his mouth ( Bechol hayotzeh mepeev) or the “utterance of lips” (Mivta Sfatayim) seem to imply statements that came out in a moment of passion or carelessness . Yet even such statements cannot be ignored or passed over. The verses in the Torah portion demand of us to watch all that we say because nothing is ever said in a void or without some sort of ramifications.

Words have power. The world was created with words.

Relationships are built up with words.

Our children discover themselves through words…theirs and ours.

Words thrown about carelessly can foster hatred and can lead to the destruction of the temple, both spiritual and physical. Yet on the other hand words can create songs and words become the vessels of prayer.

Yet , in spite of that truth  ,we have become so careless with them! King Solomon wrote “Better that you not vow, than that you should vow and not fulfill. ( KOHELLET/ Ecclesiastes 5:4)

We need to understand  that words create new reality or help us comprehend the unfathomable. We use words ( Diburim)to bridge the seemingly impossibly wide chasm between us the finite and He the infinite. In Hebrew the name for a “word” is DAVAR and the name for a “thing” is also a DAVAR. At the same time that we turn to Him with words, the Creator speaks with us through his creation,that is to say the “ things ( Devarim) we experience ” speak to us if we only try to listen.

In our lives we fill empty voids in time with “words”.We need to discern those words that we use and hear, in order to not fall onto the hands of the deceivers .Without that power of discernment we can  fall prey to individuals who throw words aimlessly or to those who use them as weapons. We so need to be wary of the individual who has so mastered the power of words so expertly that even he or she begins to believe all their own vague and meaningless words. It is then that truth becomes clouded and doing what we need to do is replaced by saying all the things that are simply politically correct.

Yet most of all we need to be careful with the use of words in our interpersonal relationships. We need to listen to the still small voice in those relationships just as we need to do that with our relationship with the Divine.

Words thrown about carelessly can foster hatred in the personal and corporate realm of our existence. Misplaced words lead to unintentional hatred which can then even lead  to the destruction of both the  spiritual and the physical Temples in our lives

We are in the midst of the three weeks commemorating the destruction of the Temple and the beginning of exile between “The fasts of the fourth and  the fifth months”. We are still in the midst of this mourning because we have not yet learned how to love as freely as we have learned how to hate.

Ahavat Chinam instead of Sinat Chinam .

The power of speech which makes humanity rise above all of Hashem’s creation needs to be directed  so as to reveal ultimate truth and to empower lasting  peace .

This is what Hashem  Almighty says: “The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.” ( Zechariah 8:19)

Lerefuat Yehudid bat Golda Yocheved and Yehudit bat Chaya Esther

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