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Parashat Matot: The Power of our Words!

Parashat Matot

This parshah deals with the sin of a person who makes a neder (vow). The Torah says – לא יחל דברו ככל היוצא מפיו יעשה, He shall not violate his word; whatever comes out of his mouth, he shall fulfill. We need to realize how important it is not to desecrate our speech, or carelessly make nedarim. To not make promises in vain. When we give our word we need to keep it.

In today’s world it is acceptable not to attribute very much importance to speech, people are used to saying, “I said it, so what,” “it’s all talk,” I did not mean it. People say all sorts of things without paying attention to what is coming out of their mouths. And this is not the Torah way of life. The Torah teaches us how important a person’s speech is, how much a man can achieve with his speech, and how much power every word a person says has. As Shlomo Hamelech said, “מוות וחיים ביד הלשון”, The tongue has the power of life and death. Everything depends on the tongue. And we know the maiseh (story) about the body parts who argued with the tongue until she won.

Chazal tells us that we can learned a tremendous Yesod (foundation) from here – a person who watches his mouth and does not violate it with prohibited speech will have the zchus (merit) – that whatever does come out of his mouth, shall be fulfilled. Whatever he prays and asks for – will receive a response from Heaven. Conversely those who did not monitor their speech – azoy (thus) their requests are not accepted. Because how can he expect his requests (bakashot) to be answered if he himself does not keep to his word.

The Chida says – a person that keeps himself from forbidden speech, and that fulfills his commitments – Hashem will give his words power, so that what he does choose to say will come to fruition.
I heard a story about Rabbi Ovadia Yosef zt”l – once a woman came to him and wanted to test him, to see if he carelessly resolves agunot (chained wives). She wanted to make fun of him. Her husband waited for her downstairs while she went in to meet Maran Rav Ovadia Yosef. She told him that she does not know what to do because her husband is gone and she wants to get married but is an agunah. The Rabbi asked her – are you sure he is dead. She told him – yes! They have not been able to find him for a long time and he is definitely dead. He said – are you sure? Okay. I will relieve you from this moment. Because he is no longer alive. She went downstairs and started laughing – because she had managed to trick the Rabbi. She went back to the car to tell her husband and there – she discovered that her husband had died of heart failure. And she burst into tears, when she saw that the words the Rabbi had spoken had come to be. This is the power of Chachamim (wise men)!

SHabat shalom And Chodesh Tov!
Rabbi Itzchak Lasry