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"Avi, have you seen my birthday gift?"
"Mazel Tov, Chaim. May you have many, many more birthdays until 120."
"What did you get?"
"A set of measuring tools. Here is a tape measure that is fifteen feet long."
"Here is a ruler that measures both inches and centimeters. The last piece in the set is a micrometer that measures microns."
"That's really small. It sounds like you can measure just about anything with this kit."
"Sure. Do you have anything to measure?"
"How about measuring a word."
"Measuring a word? What do you mean? The length of the word? That's easy. Just count the letters. You don't need any fancy tools for that."
"The number of letters is one measure of a word. However, that is not what I mean."
"Do you mean the Gematria (numerical value of a Hebrew word based on the letters) of a word Avi?"
"No, that's not what I mean either. I want to know if you can measure the effect of a word."
"That sounds pretty complicated. Can you give me an example, Avi?"
"In this week's parasha, Yosef HaTsaddik said some words that had a very big effect on his life."
"What did he say?"
"He spoke to his father Yaakov about some things that he felt his brothers were doing wrong. Among other things, he said that they were slaves, and that they had eaten meat that was not shechted (slaughtered according to Torah Law). He loved them and had only had their best interests in mind. He spoke to their father in order to correct the situation."
"What's wrong with that?"
"The Chofetz Chaim explains that one must tell the person directly about his fault. To tell someone else when you could have told the person himself is loshon hora."
"I'm in suspense, Avi. What effect did these words have on Yosef's life?"
"Hashem made everything that Yosef said about his brothers happen to him. He called them slaves; therefore, he was sold as a slave. He said that they were eating meat that was not shechted, therefore they shechted and animal and dipped his coat in its blood."
"That's incredible. Every word that he said was measured, weighed, and then sent back to him."
"Exactly, Chaim. That is what I mean by the measure of a word. Good words are stronger that the latest wonder drugs. They can make a person feel great, build up his confidence, even develop his talents. Bad words, Heaven forbid, on the other hand can be more powerful than bombs and bullets. They can embarrass, depress, or even break a person. Yosef's words caused him to be sold as a slave, a pretty miserable fate."
"We have to measure our words very carefully, Avi."
"That's what I'm getting at Chaim. You received this measuring set for your birthday. I hope that it will always remind you, me, and everyone to always measure our words carefully before we say them. One of the rewards for guarding one's speech is a long life. In the merit of keeping this mitzvah, may you have many, many more birthdays."
"Avi, those are beautiful words. I can see that you measure your words carefully before you say them. May Hashem reward you measure for measure with a long, productive life."
Kinderlach . . .
Who knows the measure of a word? A kind word can literally save a person's life. It can give strength, comfort, happiness, or advice. People recall kind words said to them many years ago. A thoughtless word, on the other hand can cause immeasurable damage. It can hurt a person's feelings, ruin his parnassa (livelihood), damage his marriage, and even ruin his life. Measure your words carefully before saying them, as if you were appraising diamonds and pearls. Words are more precious. Their value will be returned to you - measure for measure.
"Mr. Landlord, your apartment looks very nice. It is just what we need: spacious, clean, and a good location. The rent is also reasonable. I think we will take it. Let's draw up a lease."
The landlord pulls a contract out of his jacket pocket.
"Here you are, sir. Just sign on the dotted line."
The tenant takes a minute to read the terms of agreement.
"This contract says that I must bring two guarantors, each of whom earn a minimum salary of $2000 per month, along with their salary stubs for the last three months, an open bank check for security, and six-month's rent up front."
"That is correct sir."
The man thinks for a moment, clears his throat and begins to speak.
"Mr. Landlord, you are old enough to remember a time when all of this was not necessary. A signature on a contract meant that the tenant gave his word to uphold the agreement and that was enough."
The landlord's eyes meet those of the tenant's. His heart falls. His face softens and he almost seems to cry.
"What has happened to our world?"
"The warden did not check anything that he (Yosef) was in charge of, because Hashem was with him" (Bereshis 39:23). The Targum Yonason Ben Uzziel translates this verse a little differently. "The warden did not need to guard Yosef, as he did all of the other prisoners, because he did not find any sin in his hand, because Hashem was with him." Rav Zalman Sorotzkin finds this fact astounding. Yosef was condemned to death. He could have escaped because he was not guarded. Yet, he did not flee because he trusted in Hashem! Not only that, the warden recognized this, and he did not guard Yosef. The warden knew that he would not run away because he trusted in Hashem.
Kinderlach . . .
Who is a trustworthy person? One who trusts in Hashem. He will never steal, because he trusts that Hashem gives him everything that he needs. Why steal something that he does not need? He will never lie because he knows that the truth is from Hashem, and there is no reason to hide or distort it. It is a true pleasure to find someone that you can trust. His word is as good as gold, and your possessions are safe in his hands. Be a trustworthy person, and bring comfort into people's lives. Trust in Hashem and others will trust you.
Kinder Torah Copyright 2013 All rights reserved to the author Simcha Groffman
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