The past few days, I have been teaching our 5th and 6th graders. In one session we discussed how an unintended mispronunciation of a Hebrew word might completely change a sentence. In another session, we discussed how someone’s tone might have a lingering, negative impact. Even if just one word is said sarcastically, it is often difficult deciphering what was heard versus what was meant. Our words matter—the ones we say and the ones we don’t.
Mishlei reminds us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” We often forget how much control we exert when we praise, compliment, shame, or attack. When we spend our free time belittling someone’s character, our children learn the value of destroying. When we fuel our inner selves by watching someone else wallow, our world shrinks, words stripping away the lifelines of confidence and faith.
And not using our words offers a different sense of punishment. Where we can offer words of love, we must. When we exchange sentiments of positivity and adoration, we fill up someone’s soul. Our words hold the power to create or destroy. In the little time we have in this world, why not choose the path of creation?
Every word counts. May yours be used wisely. To lift. To inspire. To create.
Rabbi Nicole Guzik is a rabbi at Sinai Temple. She can be reached at her Facebook page at Rabbi Nicole Guzik or on Instagram @rabbiguzik. For more writings, visit Rabbi Guzik’s blog section from Sinai Temple’s website.