Devar Torah - Emor

Friday, 8 May, 2015 - 10:30 am

Saying It Like It Truly Is
By Rabbi Shimon Raichik 

This week is parshas Emor. The Rebbe explains that the word ‘emor – to speak’, has a message in and of itself aside from the specifics that follow it. The word emor, the name and theme of this week’s parsha, remind us that each and every one of us possesses a special power and ability to speak that we are obligated to use. What is this ability and how are we supposed to speak?

There is an old saying; “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will…” The world ends this saying with, “will never hurt me”, but the truth is that we know that words can and often do harm in ways that neither sticks nor stones can. Hurtful words can penetrate into one’s inner psyche and destroy. If this is true in the negative it is even more so in the positive. One good, edifying and sincere word of encouragement can build an entire person’s being for an entire lifetime.

What we say to others depends on our perspective. Lag B’Omer, the day Rabbi Akiva’s students stopped passing away teaches an important lesson in ahavas Yisroel and the importance of maintaining a positive outlook towards others. If we see negativity in others, before we say anything, we need to start over and revamp our point of view. To get there we need to look beyond the physical and focus on the neshama (As discussed in the Tanya chapter 32 at length).Everyone has something special. We need trained eyes, eyes that see our fellow Jew’s neshama. Then we will always be able to see his or her unique qualities and contributions.

There was someone who wrote about himself to the Rebbe. He wrote that he wasn’t on the level to accomplish much. The Rebbe wrote back that just like we are forbidden to speak lashon hara about others, so too about ourselves. He told him that Hashem gave him a neshama and placed him in a specific environment. He told him that Hashem gave him the strength to accomplish. This is what we need to say to others and this is what we need to tell ourselves.

In a sicha (Sefer HaSichos 5704 pages 4-5) the Previous Rebbe said that the once the Baal Shem Tov overheard how one Jew told another: “Hashem will surely help”. Later when the Baal Shem Tov met with the Chevraya Kaddisha he spoke loftily of having overheard this conversation and then said: “When this simple Jew said that Hashem will surely help his words saved thousands and tens of thousands from decrees”.

Later in the same sicha he said: “The Rebbe Maharash once told my father that the world assumes that taking a pidyon nefesh is a difficult matter and is only within the ability of a Rebbe. The truth is that every Jew is capable as well and he does it by saying something complimentary about another Jew. It requires however that his words be said with truth. Hundreds of Malachim wait on Rosh Hashana night to hear one Jew say a compliment about another Jew. They wait because they know that Hashem desires the praises of Yisroel. Even the prayers of Tzaddikim are not as desirous as the praise one Jew says about another”.

In another sicha (Sefer HaSichos 5703 pages 123 and 128) the Previous Rebbe speaks about how hearing is different for each person. “Depending on the limitations in the structure of the ear, one person is limited in his ability to hear while another has a better ear and therefore hears better. It all depends on the vessel, the ear, not the nefesh, the soul’s power”. He then said; “The Baal Shem Tov hears. Everyone needs to know that when the Baal Shem Tov’s name is mentioned, the Baal Shem Tov hears. His hearing is very refined. After 183 years (5703 it was 183 years. This year, 5755 it has been 255 years) of being in a continuous state of clarifications and elevations, going from strength to strength, it is understood that the Baal Shem Tov hears us where he is when we mention his name”.

Once someone spoke ill of a secular leader in Israel in front of the Rebbe. Because there were problems with this leader’s policies that were adversely effecting world Jewry this person was upset. The Rebbe asked him where he got his expressions. “Did you ever hear such words from the Previous Rebbe?” the Rebbe asked. Even though the person who spoke about this leader wasn’t speaking for personal reasons, it was a communal matter, nevertheless the Rebbe insisted on speaking positively about others. Issues are just that, issues, but we never speak ill of another even when we agree that he is acting incorrectly. The Rebbe once commented that when he speaks about vital problems that affect the public, he only speaks about shitos-ideologies, never about individuals. The Rebbe was in close contact with and even relatives of people about whom he spoke out against their activities and ideologies. It is clear that it was never personal.

By seeing passed the physical of our fellow Jew and seeing the endless and unique potential that truly is found within his or her neshama may we speak frequent and only positive words of praise. Through this may we merit to see the effect those words have both in the physical and on high. May we merit going all as one, with our children and our elders, with our sons and daughters, together to greet Moshiach “b’rov shira v’zimra.

A Good Shabbos

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