How to Use Your Most Powerful Weapon

We are defined by how we use our tongues and by the words that leave our lips each day.

Commentary on Parashat Tazria, Leviticus 12:1 - 13:59

Everyone is born with a powerful weapon, which can be used for both good and evil. This weapon grows over time, but remains small and mostly concealed. It’s bumpy, pink and slippery, but can be pulled out and put away in a blink of an eye. This weapon is your tongue. Your tongue is used to create thousands of words every day, and each word has the power to harm or to heal, to hurt or to help. We are defined by how we use our tongues and by the words that leave our lips each day.

This week’s Torah portion, Tazria, teaches us about the strength of words. The ancient Sages believed that leprosy was a punishment for slander and spreading malicious gossip. By gossiping, you hurt someone’s reputation and make them appear poorly in public. In return, you are punished with a skin disease that causes you to appear poorly before others.

Once words are released, they cannot be brought back. Your tongue is like an arrow. Once unleashed, it cannot be withdrawn. Like arrows, words have the ability to pierce those with whom they come in contact. We must be careful with our most precious weapons, our tongues, and the words they create.

TALK TO YOUR KIDS about how our words define us, and how words can be both helpful and harmful.

CONNECT TO THEIR LIVES:

· When have your words hurt someone else? How did you feel after saying something hurtful?

· When has another person’s words hurt you? How did it feel?

· How can you use your words to help others?

· How will you use your most powerful weapon, your tongue?

From “Values and Ethics: Torah Topics for Today,” available from Behrman House Publishers.

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