Tevet 28
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Tevet 28

Man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7).

Rabbi Leib, the son of the Chassidic master Rabbi Mordechai of Nesh'chiz, related that he remembered being a small child sitting on his father's lap. His father told him, "The Targum (Aramaic translation of the Torah) interprets living soul as a speaking spirit. In other words, people acquire the capacity to speak by virtue of the Divine soul that is instilled within them. Inasmuch as God is truth, the Divine soul, which is part of God, is also truth. Since people's souls are linked with this ability to speak, speech can only be truth. That is why," the Rabbi continued, "if someone lies, that is not speech, only meaningless noise."

"Ever since then," Rabbi Leib said, "whenever someone lies to me, all I hear is undistinguishable sounds, just noise. I cannot make out words, and I cannot understand what the person is saying."

How wonderful it would be if we too could so refine our hearing that our ears could perceive only truth, and that untruths would be just scrambled sounds! Still, if we cannot rise to the spiritual heights of Rabbi Leib, we may nevertheless understand that if we lie, we are not really speaking, but only making noise. To lie is to distort the God-given gift of speech into meaningless sounds that cannot possibly achieve anything truly beneficial to us.

Think of yourself as a concert pianist who, instead of playing melodious music, bangs indiscriminately on the keys, producing an annoying cacophony. When you are not speaking the truth, you are making the same noise.

Today I shall...

try to realize that speech is not only a special gift of God, but is in itself Divine, and I shall not demean it by lying.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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