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Words Matter

Thursday, 3 October, 2013 - 11:58 am

Hospital – host …."institution for sick people" first recorded 1540s. (Source Online Etymology Dictionary)

In Hebrew, a Hospital is a Beis Cholim - House for Sick People. The Rebbe referred to it as a Beis Refuah - a house of healing. Why? Because it’s a house that does good deeds and heals – not just a “host” for sick people. It’s a more positive outlook as well.

Lesson: words matter – be nice and be positive!

In the Torah portion that is read this Saturday,  in synagogues worldwide, there is an interesting verse that says “Of all the clean animals (tahor ) you shall take for yourself seven pairs, a male and its mate, and of the animals that are not clean, (ainenu tahora) two, a male and its mate.” It should have been written “Of all the clean animals (tahor) you shall take for yourself seven pairs, a male and its mate, and of the animals that are dirty (tamei), two, a male and its mate. But the Torah goes out of its way to use more words in order to speak avoid using negative words.

The Talmud learns from this: speak longer but speak cleaner.

Lesson: words matter – be nice and be positive!

At the end of this week’s portion we read of the birth of Abraham.  “And these are the generations of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, ….”

Abraham is known as “HaIvri” which translates as “the contrarian” – the reason for this is because he lived on the other side of the river. However, there is a deeper meaning to this. He was a contrarian that he did not allow society to determine his values.

He did what was right regardless if it was popular.

In last week’s Torah portion, we learnt that Humans were created in the image of G-d. We need to speak in a G-dly manner, use a language that is befitting the royalty that we are. If it seems like we are not popular because of it, learn from Abraham and be a contrarian.

As the sign on the wall in my aunt’s kitchen says: “What is right is not always popular, What is popular is not always right”.

See you on Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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