Rabbi Yedidya Noiman
Rosh Kollel Montreal
The power of words
מוצא שפתיך תשמור ועשית כאשר נדרת לה'
In the middle of our parasha we are told again about the importance and even the danger of fulfilling our oaths. The Tora warns us that have we sworn or accepted an obligation we should, with all means, implement it. In the Gemara, Chazal even say that it is better not to commit yourself by swearing than never swearing- even if you did manage to fulfill your oath every single time. This policy can be understood as a precocious advice the Tora gives us. Don’t risk yourself by trying or seeking after new adventures and new ways of spiritual life.
But this policy can be also devastating. Instead of encouraging people to try to achieve new goals and expand their own standards the Tora frightens us from the possibility of not succeeding. It also seems like a whole opposite to the idea of תשובה. The only reason to be optimistic and hopeful that this time it can work, is based on being a little risky. Letting myself try new ways and goals is literally starting the path of תשובה.
Knowing that these two concepts aren’t supposed to be contradictive it seems that we should look carefully at the Pasuk. When teaching us that 'מוצא שפתיך תשמור' the Tora isn’t only teaching us to be careful with our mouth and words. The Tora is teaching us the hidden unique potential laid in our ability to talk and speak.
Like ואביו שמר את הדבר in the story of Yosef and his Brothers the meaning of שמרisn’t only guarding or keeping, לשמור also means to anticipate. In that story it meant that יעקב אבינו waited to see how Yosef’s dream will unfold, and here the meaning is that we should treat our ability to speak and talk with respect and caution.
Respecting our words doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t talk our communicate. Respecting it means talking while realizing the importance of our words.
ר' חיים מוולאז'ין ,in his book Nefesh Hachaim (Sha’ar Alef), teaches us that the main importance of our ability to speak is the ability to express ourselves and share our deep and hidden thoughts. A man can share his most spiritual hopes and dreams simply by telling it to another. With no need to actually do anything we can build and create, simply by talking. Yes, we haven’t achieved anything yet but by saying it we have brought the idea from underneath to the world. In that way the world can start to improve simply by talking and wishing for it. That is the main importance of praying, to really wish and desire for some things.
The main significance of us as Humans is the ability to speak and that is why we are supposed to monitor our words. Not to depress or shrink us but by respecting our words we become like Hashem that created the world simply by talking- בעשרה מאמרות נברא העולם.
Understanding the power of our words should lead us to encourage positive speaking and writing.
t is known that the Chafetz Chayim was a very big chatter. When asked how can it be that he, who taught the world how dangerous can our words be, talks so much he answered that this is exactly what he is trying to show. Despite the danger and the chance to fail we should constantly try to drive forward. Our words are strong and powerful and we should use them to contribute to the ongoing mission of our life to make the world more spiritual and kind.