Thursday, May 30, 2013


Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Shelach
22 Sivan 5773/May 31, 2013
Pirkei Avos – perek 3

A few weeks ago I had the distinct privilege of being invited to address an esteemed Shmiras Halashon group. The group meets monthly in one of the member’s home and invites a speaker to give chizuk about the challenge and the importance of guarding our words.
When I began I noted my discomfort speaking about a topic which I do not feel I have mastered. But there is nothing that obligates compliance more than when speaking about a topic. So it was a great way to encourage myself in this vital endeavor.
This was just after we began doing work on our kitchen, and at the time our kitchen was nothing more than wood floors and bare walls. Chani had made supper on the grill, which included corn on the cob.
Later that night after I had returned home from the speech, to my chagrin, I saw that I had black charred pieces of corn shells on the top of two of my teeth. How embarrassing! One of the rules of public speaking is that you should always look in the mirror before beginning a presentation in which people will be staring at you for any extended period of time. I must have run out so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to get that last look.
I comforted myself that at least I didn’t have to worry about anyone gossiping about how my mishap (unless my speech was a total flop…)
During the lecture I noted how interesting it is that it only took the demolition crew one day to completely destroy and remove the entire kitchen which had been in place for over two and a half decades. Rebuilding and installing on the other hand, takes a few weeks!
It is a good reminder of how careful we must be when it comes to our interactions with others. It is frightening how easy it is to tear someone down and shatter them through an unkind and un-sensitive word. To rebuild and repair that damage which was wrought so effortlessly, requires exponentially more effort and time.
When the spies returned from Eretz Yisroel it only took a short time for them to overturn the nation’s excitement about the Promised Land.
Whether it’s about corn stuck in one’s teeth or whether it’s an assessment of another person’s looks, proficiency, acumen, or ability, the power of words should never be underestimated. 
The world says talk is cheap. The truth however is that, although talk is easy, it’s anything but cheap!

Shabbat Shalom & Good Shabbos,
    R’ Dani and Chani Staum