Use Words Carefully


One of Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s preoccupations is to make his reader aware of the constructive or destructive power of words. Most of his ideas on the subject can be found in his book Words that Hurt, Words that Heal: How to Choose Words Wisely and Well. However his ideas are also developped in his other works.

I have just reread some advice that seems very sound. Thus Rabbi Teleshkin suggests that if you are angry with someone and want to voice your anger, you should concentrate on the person’s actions, not his/her personality.

Therefore you should be careful not to use words such as “always” (you are always messing up everything you do) and “never” (you never care about anyone except yourself). Such words will demoralize the person you are talking too.

In my opinion if you make such definitive statements, your message will be lost as the person won’t recognize himself/herself in the portrait you draw.

Rabbi Telushkin suggests that to be more efficient when expressing discontent you shoud “restrict you anger to the incident that provoked it”.

9 thoughts on “Use Words Carefully

  1. I’ll have to write something about them later, but I want to do it right, so it’ll take a long time.

    But just to throw out a few salient details: The Jews of Cochin, who followed the RambaM (Maimonides) in halakhah and the Sephardim generally in liturgy (i.e. the siddur), had some interesting practices, such…
    1) Not eating meat and milk the same DAY
    2) Having women sing for men in the synagogue as part of the official liturgy, totally disregarding kol isha
    3) Having a second bimah near the women’s gallery, so that women could see the Torah being read
    4) Giving women an education equal to that of men

    Also, the Hindus were extremely tolerant, and treated the Jews like royalty, like one of the higher Hindu castes. Not a single act of antisemitism is recorded over a 2000 year period (roughly 70 CE until 1950 CE, from the Second Temple until the State of Israel), so far as I can tell.

  2. Pingback: Last Minute Weekly Review « Ilana-Davita

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