Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Speech Therapy

"Ten things were created on the eve of Shabbat at twilight.... [two of these were] the ketav and the michtav...." [Pirkei Avot 5:9]

Both ketav and michtav could be translated as "writing", but if so, one of them is redundant. Michtav can also mean "speech" as in "The michtav of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick and had recovered from his sickness" [Isaiah 38:9].  Hezekiah did not write anything; he spoke of his gratitude to G-d for healing him [Midrash Shmuel].

Why was speech created on the eve of the first Shabbat?

Observant Jews rarely commit the cardinal sins. Our problem today is sins of speech: profanity, lashon hara, falsehood, scoffing, flattery and idle chatter. We tend to take these lightly, but G-d is very particular about our speech. On the day of judgment He will scrutinize every word we ever uttered [or wrote]. To make this point, He created speech on the eve of Shabbat at twilight.

Just as the world was created in six days and the seventh was a day of rest, so the world will last in its present state for six millennia and then enter the Messianic era, the Shabbat of history. In our times - twilight on the eve of the great Shabbat - the evil inclination concentrates its attacks on our speech.

from the writings of Hacham Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad [The Ben Ish Hai]

1 comment:

Leah said...

Oy!......al chait......