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Devarim; Power of Speech

Updated: Dec 24, 2023

Hebrew is called “lashon hakodesh" / "the holy tongue (language)" which can also be read as an injunction to keep our speech holy. Parshas Devarim – meaning “words" and "things” – is usually read before Tisha B’Av, the holy day connected to rectifying the past and rebuilding unity within our nation and with Hashem.

In his final talk before Bnei Yisroel, Moshe Rabbeinu relates that in the past, he became momentarily disheartened by the people’s “trouble and burden” and by their “bickering”– which seems, comparatively, insignificant. Yet it is the last word, literally and figuratively, in Moshe’s statement here. The root of the Hebrew word “Rivchem” can mean “contend" or "complain” as well as “increase" or "multiply".

Small complaints multiply and increase one’s troubles and burdens, until they can challenge even the greatest of men, Moshe Rabbeinu. How much more can they affect us!

Moshe—despite a speech impediment, possibly the world’s most influential speaker—teaches us that words can be used in a way that will diminish disputes, bring about therapeutic realignment, and increase unity. We can speak the language of love, where the intent of our speech matters as much as the content: words that come from one’s heart will enter the heart of another. The more we use our devarim in lashon hakodesh, increasing our words for holy purposes—for prayer, learning, sympathy, encouragement—the more we arouse in ourselves the specific power that Gd used to create the world: the power of speech. The holier our speech, the holier and more powerful we become. Holy speech empowers us to be co-creators.


You can also find this article on

Jewish Journal

Accidental Talmudist

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