Fashioning Our Words
Each one of us carries a very big weapon -- that big weapon is the words that we speak. Our words can hurt or heal. They can be used to do wonderful things. If we use them right. In our Torah portion, we learn not to use words to hurt other people: "You shall not hurt each other (with words)." We shouldn't embarrass anybody about things he used to do wrong. When someone asks us for advice, we are responsible to give good, trustworthy advice and not to mislead people. God listens to everything we say and He's very happy when we use our powerful words the right way.
In our story, a girl passes a big test of speech and helps out a friend.
"CHANGE OF ADDRESS"
Jenny had her eye on this dress for a long time. It was a gorgeous pink chiffon with lavender trim.
"I would feel like a queen in that dress," Jenny would tell herself.
The dress was on display in the window of Fashion-World. The only problem was the price tag. It was way beyond Jenny's budget.
Then one day Jenny looked at an ad in the paper and couldn't believe her eyes. "Fashion-World Sale! All dresses half price!" it said.
Jenny and her sister practically ran to the store. But when they got there the dress was gone!
"Where's the pink dress from the window?" Jenny asked the saleslady with a gasp. "Oh, a girl is trying it on in the dressing room right now," she answered.
Right then Sandy, one of Jenny's best friends, came walking out of the dressing room in the pink dress. It looked fantastic on her.
Sandy noticed her friend and came right over to her. "Oh Jenny," She said. "I'm so glad to see you. I just can't decide whether or not to buy this dress. Tell me what you think. If you say it looks good on me, I'll buy it. If not, I'm putting it back."
Jenny and her sister looked at each other. Jenny's sister bent over and whispered "What luck. All you have to do is tell her not to take it, and it will be all yours."
Jenny smiled, but then thought to herself, "How can I tell her not to take the dress. She's trusting me for my true opinion. The truth is it looks great on her. But still…"
Sandy interrupted Jenny's thoughts. "So what do you think?" she asked.
Jenny hesitated a few seconds and said, "Sandy, you should definitely take the dress. It's really you."
Her friend smiled. "Oh thank you so much Jenny," she said. "I know I can trust your advice." She turned and went to buy the dress.
Jenny walked out of the store, without a new dress, but feeling like a queen, inside and out.
Q. If Jenny wanted the pink dress for herself, why did she tell her friend to buy it instead?
A. Because her friend asked her what she thought, and she knew the right thing was to tell the truth -- that the dress looked good on her friend and she should buy it.
Q. How would you feel if you asked your friend a question and he or she told you the wrong answer on purpose, to fool you?
A. I'd feel bad because my friend didn't tell me the truth.
Q. How can a person be sure that he or she is giving someone honest advice?
A. He can try to put himself "into the other person's shoes" and only think about what's really best for him. It's also important to be objective and to try not to think about how the advice will affect you.
Q. Why would a person purposely give bad advice?
A. Perhaps he's embarrassed to admit that he really doesn't know, or he's afraid that he will lose out if he tells the truth. Sometimes it really takes courage to be honest.
Q. Has anyone ever asked you for advice? What did you tell him?
Ages 10 and Up
Q. Which do you think is worse: hurting somebody physically or with words? Why?
A. Even though physical harm is very serious, usually when the wounds heal, the pain is forgotten. But pain caused by hurtful words can often last a lifetime and affect so many areas of a person's life. So in a sense harmful words are even worse.
Q. A friend bought a certain kind of bike based on your advice. After a couple of days the bike totally fell apart because it was such a bad bike. Are you responsible to reimburse your friend since he or she bought based on your advice?