Monday, February 25, 2008

The Power of Speech

The Chazon Ish, zt”l once said that although people know that life and death are in the hands of the loshon, it is usually only the power of the negative that they really feel, the stab of an inconsiderate word, or the character assassination of lashon hara. But what about speech as a force for life? Sometimes what we say can literally bring someone back to a life of sanctity, and help them get on the right track again. This is why we have to weigh what we say with extreme caution. What we say is literally life and death!

Rav Aharon Bakshet zt”l was in Kelm for Yom Kippur and he saw the Alter of Kelm zt”l was awake the whole night, seemingly deep in thought. After the fast, he approached the Alter and asked why he had not slept the whole night. The Alter explained: “I have to guide the community. On Yom Kippur I spend the whole night thinking about what the individuals under my care need to be told to further their spiritual development. I also give consider how each person should be approached to help them grow. How I should rebuke, and how I should encourage. This is a very difficult task, so I always do it on the night of Yom Kippur. This way the merit of the holiest day of the year is with me as I speak to each and every one the whole year long!”

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