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To Build Or To Destroy? The choice is ours!

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. (First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt)

The reality is very different. Sadly, people spend a great deal of time talking about others. Often, the content is unfavorable.

People would like to think that words matter very little. After all, I’m not doing anything, I’m just uttering words. What harm is caused?

Truthfully, however, the reality is quite different. The impact of words is enormous. Both positively and negatively. Words can either build or destroy lives, literally.

In offering insight into the name of this week’s Torah portion “Emor” (Speak) the Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches us that certain types of speech are in fact an imperative.

In his code of Jewish law, Maimonides writes, “Each man is commanded to love each and every one of Israel as himself, as the verse states: "Love your neighbor as yourself”. It is therefore necessary to praise others."

If we analyze Maimonides' statement, we discover a profound truth about establishing positive relationships that can change our lives.

Maimonides teaches us that by speaking positively of a person, we indeed reveal a latent quality, thus increasing its value. Just as with the mining of precious stones where the value is massively increased as a result of bringing it out into the open.

This dynamic thus evokes a affinity between the one who hears praise and the one who is praised. This is why Maimonides sees the act of praising others as the primary tool towards the fulfillment of the most fundamental principle in Judaism, “Love your fellow as yourself”.

So the choice is ours. Do we want to build or to destroy? Shall we fill our hearts with love or hatred? Are we trying to bring out the best in other people or the worst?

We exercise our freedom to choose every moment, every day, with the words we use when we speak of others.

Imagine a world where people only spoke good about people?

Imagine a world where the resources devoted to climate change would be invested in the creation of a universal awareness of the creative or destructive power of speech!


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