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Words of the Heart


Torah Portion: Parashat Mattot-Masei

Shabbat: July 15, 2023 | Tammuz 26, 5783

Prophets: Isaiah 66:1-24


The Our Father

“In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come.

Your will be done.

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,

As we forgive our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation,

But deliver us from the evil one.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you”.


Words of the Heart | Further thoughts on Parashat Mattot

During his lectures on Jewish values, Joseph Telushkin used to ask his audience if they can go 24 hours without saying any unkind words about, or to, anybody. Most people said no, they couldn't. Rabbi Telushkin then commended them for their honesty, but then pointed out that if he had asked them if they could go 24 hours without drinking alcohol and they likewise said they couldn't, wouldn't that mean they have a serious drinking problem? (Words that Hurt). His point is that if you can't go 24 hours without saying unkind words about others (or raging at the world), you have lost control of your tongue. As Yeshua explained, words express the condition of the heart, since "from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). Therefore the root issue concerns the heart (לֵב), the "midst of the self" that wills, desires, and chooses how to interpret and describe the world. If we choose to see from a heart of fear, we will tend to use our words as a weapon; but if we see with a heart of faith, we will extend compassion and seek to build others up.... In the Book of Proverbs we read, "When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is wise" (Prov. 10:19). The Chofetz Chaim comments: "When people are preparing a telegram, notice how carefully they consider each word before they put it down. That is how careful we must be when we speak." As James admonishes us: "Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger" (James 1:19).

Since words represent thoughts, the use of our tongues has to do with how we choose to think... "Think on these things..." We are instructed to "take every thought captive" (αἰχμαλωτίζω, i.e., lead away as a prisoner) to the obedience of Messiah... It is wise to restrain our speech, because, after all, we often have no idea what we are talking about, and therefore our words can become unruly and even dangerous. Whenever we open our mouth to speak, Heaven is listening (Matt. 12:36-37).

John J. Parsons

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