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Shabbat Parashat Vaetchanan 5776

Ein Ayah: Speech The Medium to Properly Convey Emotion

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Shabbat 2:232)

Gemara: Due to the sin of navlut peh (a filthy mouth), many problems and harsh decrees arise, young Jewish men die, and orphans and widows cry out and are not answered, as the pasuk says: “For that reason, Hashem will not be happy over His young men, and He will not have mercy for His orphans and widows, for all is false flattery and evil, and every mouth speaks horrible things. For all this, His anger remains, and His arm is still outstretched” (Yeshaya 9:16).


Ein Ayah: A person has two types of tendencies that connect to the world around him, natural and choice tendencies. When his spirit looks at all his actions and all his internal tendencies and how they relate to each other and to others, he will see that everything is good and pure. Although individual tendencies may be upsetting and unseemly to the spirit, it is not the individual but the broader communal elements which give the true picture. 

When a person’s feelings break forth and connect to those around him, he does this through speech. His mouth must express his emotions in the most appropriate way, which furthers communal goals. One must, therefore, use clean, pleasant language. When life is going well, it is easier for one to express his feelings positively and richly. When there is a good connection between the individual and society, it helps both, and one will be able to express himself in a way that broadens his experience and connection with the world. This, in turn, will elevate his thoughts and his actions.

The period of greatest vigor is bacharut (early adulthood), and this is related to the nice side of life, when a person has the strength to give life to his hidden emotions, as one before whom the field of opportunity is most widely open. They can even invigorate the older people around them (“The crown of the old is their grandchildren” – Mishlei 17:6). When speech is used properly, it can elevate all emotions, even those that have the potential to isolate a person, and instead by choosing to focus on the positive and the holy, it can make life more special. When the properly expressive person encounters a tragedy, he has the tools to make people join with him in efforts toward seeking divine mercy and salvation.

All of the above is lost when one uses speech to express the unseemly and lowly elements of his emotion. Then he spreads that which is objectionable throughout society and lowers it. As a result, people throughout society will start speaking in a manner that will turn speech into a horrible monster, so that more and more discussion among people will lower individuals’ and society’s moral level. The focus on beauty and pleasantness will be replaced by ugly emotions that should have been left in the realm of the individual.

In these unfortunate circumstances, instead of bacharut being the most positively energetic, it is the most polluting. Since speech can create destructive emotions, it becomes necessary to weaken the power of these young people. Society in general will not be able to use its emotions to evoke mercy when people are hit by tragedy. People will have to focus on their tragedy and not on matters that are destructive to society, which Hashem will ensure is downsized and weakened. Orphans and widows will go unheeded because all of the charm of life will be lost, as people will not be moved by emotion. The weakened state will have to continue until it causes people to realize that they need to significantly uproot the destructive forces, which is not a quickly accomplished task.

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