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Torah: Matot-Masei

Torah: Matot-Masei- “Like a sword in my bones are the taunts of my adversaries, by saying to me all the day, ‘Where is your God?’” (Psalm 42:11). My friend, Len Saxe, recently pointed out that this verse from Psalms is the rebuttal to the children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” In the Jewish tradition words create enduring hurt and also have the power to create goodness, including creation itself. Words are the foundation of trust between people. In our Torah reading this week, we are admonished: “If a person makes a vow to God… do not violate that word, but do everything that emerges from the mouth (Numbers 30:3).”  Rabbi Abraham Twerski writes, “Although this verse specifically addresses vows, the Torah commentaries have broadened the concept to apply to everything a person says. “ The Talmud (Arakhin 15b) quotes Rabbi Yohanan: Our tongue is placed behind the lips and the teeth, precisely to guard its use.  Let us know the power of our tongue for good and for evil (Proverbs 18:21) and may we use our words with wisdom and integrity.