Most of us can remember somebody who hurt us with their words.
A schoolteacher, a relative, a so-called friend. Their loosely-uttered
sentence sits in our memory from decades ago. Late in our life we may
still be holding onto something negative that was said to us when we
were 10 years old, or younger.
And yet, despite this knowledge, we still treat our words lightly. As if
our words cannot hurt. Or heal. Or create. Rabbis argue over the
so-called sin of the 12 spies who went to check out the land of Israel,
10 of whom came back with negative reports. Why were they punished
so heavily? On that note, why was Moses punished so heavily for hitting
the rock rather than speaking to it?
We try to have it both ways. To acknowledge we are made in the image
of God but then not take responsibility for it. If we stay conscious that
we have a Divine power with our words – yes, THIS MEANS YOU!!! – then
we are careful not to spread negative reports like the spies, and not to doubt
the power of our words like Moses.
How will you use your words today?
(Originally Published June 29th 2016. Parshat Shelach).