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A program of The Mussar Institute 

Generosity Week — Day 4

Daniel Rothner, Director, Areyvut: The Power of Speech

Please watch Daniel Rothner’s 3-minute video:

Daniel Rothner's video

In Jewish tradition, words have tremendous power. Words themselves can change the world. God created the world with speech. “God said, ‘Let there be light!’ and there was light.” (Bereishis 1:3).

AreyvutPeople also change the world through speech. In this video, Daniel Rothner discusses the negative impact of lashon hara and how impossible it is to undo. The youths of Areyvut who act as mitzvah clowns change the world of the senior citizens they visit for the better—they manifest care, joy, responsibility.

When we share our problems talking them through, we often feel better, though nothing has materially changed. When a woman blesses Shabbat candles, she alters her reality: it was not the Sabbath, and now it is.  When a groom gives his bride a ring and says the words of consecration, he is married: a moment before, he was single.

So many of the mitzvot can be powered by our speech. We are commanded to visit the sick, to honor our parents, to welcome the stranger. Even when Abraham delegated the cooking and slaughtering required to adequately host the angels, he used speech! 

Thoughtful, empathetic words reflect an inner generosity of spirit, and they have the potential to multiply kindness in the world far beyond our knowing. An individual whose spirits are lifted by your kind words may “pay it forward” to others, and they to others—creating a generative cycle with great energy and power.

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