The Power of Speech:Rabbi Nachman


Prayer must be spoken out in actual words – literally. It is not enough to think the prayers. It is true that God knows what we are thinking. But the words have to be spoken, because speech is the vessel with which we receive the flow of blessings. According to our words, so is the blessing we receive .

One who perfects his speech can receive abundant blessings through the vessels he forms with his words. This is why we must actually articulate our prayers with our mouths.

Likutey Moharan I, 34

* * *

Guard your tongue

Never let a word of wickedness leave your mouth. Don’t ever say you will be wicked or commit a sin, even if you mean it as a joke and have no intention of carrying out your words.

The words themselves can be very damaging. They can compel you to fulfill them even though you did not mean them seriously.

This was what caused King Jehu’s downfall, because he said, “Ahab served Baal a little, but Jehu will serve him very much” ( II Kings 10:18 ) . When King Jehu said these words, he had no intention of committing idolatry. He said them only to trick the Baal worshipers, as explained in the following verse. Yet these words were his downfall, because he later came to commit idolatry.

From this the Talmud learns that “a covenant is made with the lips” ( Sanhedrin 102a) . You should therefore be very careful about what you say.

Sichot Haran #237

* * *

Speaking derogatorily about other people reinforces the hold of fantasy and illusion over us. When people use bad language and speak derogatorily about others, their spiritual awareness and understanding are withdrawn from them and they fall from the love of God and descend into animalistic passions and desires. The source of these passions and desires is man’s faculty of imagination, which is part of his animal nature. Imagination feeds on falsehood and slander and is directly opposed to the faculty of memory with which we keep our true situation in this life and our eternal destiny in the forefront of our minds.

Those who abuse language fall into forgetfulness, which is the death of the heart. Their heart dies within them and they never remember that the true goal of our life in this world is the eternal life of the world to come. Such people are dead even in their lifetime, because they have no conception of their true goal and purpose.

Likutey Moharan I, 54

* * *

Speech is the breath of the lips of the Holy One, blessed be He. To abuse it is to turn it into a “raging storm­ wind” (Psalms 148:8) . This raging storm wind is the great accuser – the source of all man’s trials and challenges. This wild spirit erodes man’s very flesh. It is the root of all the slander, falsehood and evil that people speak about each other. It is called the “end of all flesh” (Genesis 6:13 ) because it wastes and destroys man’s flesh and his very life. All this is the result of abusing speech.

Likutey Moharan I, 38

* * *

The hammer

A certain king sent his son far away to study. The son eventually returned to the king’s palace fully versed in all the arts and sciences. One day the king told his son to take a particular stone that was as big as a millstone and bring it up to the top floor of the palace. But the stone was so heavy that the prince could not even lift it up. He was very upset that he could not fulfill his father’s wish.

Eventually the king said to his son, “Did you really imagine that I meant you to do the impossible and carry the stone just as it is up there? Even with all your wisdom, how were you supposed to do such a thing? That was not what I meant. I wanted you to take a big hammer and smash the stone into little pieces. This is how you will be able to bring it up to the top floor.”

In the same way, God commands us to “lift our heart with our hands up to God in the heavens” (Lamentations 3:41) . Our heart is a “heart of stone” (Ezekiel 36:26) , a very heavy stone. There is no possible way to raise it to God except by taking a hammer and breaking and smashing the heart of stone.

The “hammer” is speech!

Chayey Moharan #441

* * *

Mother of children

Speech is a “mother of children” (Psalms 113:9) . Just as a mother always stays with her child and never forgets him even if he goes to the filthiest of places, so the power of speech never leaves a person even if he finds himself in the filthiest of places.

Even one who has sunk to the lowest level can always remind himself of God’s presence if he speaks words of holiness: Torah and prayer. Regardless of his situation, he should try to speak words of Torah and prayer, meditate and speak to God, and he should discuss matters of faith with his teacher and friends. This way he will always be able to remind himself of God’s presence regardless of how far he is from God, even if he falls to the “filthy places”. His faculty of speech will not desert him, and he will never be able to forget God.

Understand the tremendous power of speech. It can save you from destruction.

Likutey Moharan I, 78

* * *

If you know how

Speech has tremendous power. If you know how, you can even whisper to a gun so that it cannot shoot.

Likutey Moharan II, 96

The text translated into English by Rabbi Abraham Greenbaum of Azamra in Jerusalem

You may also like...