11 Shvat 5779 / Thursday, January 17, 2019 | Torah Reading: Beshalah
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Bless and Be Blessed

He was pleasant and impressive, a prestigious businessman with a wonderful character. Yet, in recent years, everything went downhill, from his income to his children's health…


During one of my trips abroad, a man made an appointment with me. He was both pleasant and impressive, a prestigious businessman. He told me that ten years after his wedding, he began to lose a lot of money. At first, these were random losses. Later, they began to be systematic to the point that his business was in grave danger.


I inquired about his marital bliss and his observance of family purity and he told me that both were fine. I asked him about his relationships with his fellow humans and he told me that he was very careful in this area and that he had no problems. He gave me the impression of a person with wonderful character, a well-mannered individual who would not hurt a soul. He told me about his wife, his children and his business. We developed a close friendship and he remained in contact with me.


Unfortunately, with every phone call that I received from him, his financial situation became worse. He lost all his wealth, but that wasn't all. Now, it was discovered that his son was stricken with the nasty big "C" disease and that two of his daughters got divorced. In one of our conversations, I told him, "Listen, there must be something wrong between you and another person; I don't know what to tell you, but I'm sure your troubles stem from the area of man and fellow man."


He contemplated what I told him. Then, he told me that his wife had an argument with his mother. Since then, out of frustration, his wife curses constantly – his mother, his brothers, herself and her life, Heaven forbid. I asked him how his mother and brothers are feeling. He told me that they were happy, healthy, and marrying off their children; everything was going well for them, including their businesses. He was the only one in the family having difficulties.


We spoke some more about his wife and the way she lives her life. He told me that from the beginning of their marriage, she would curse in difficult times. In time, cursing became second nature to her and she began cursing all the time. The whole world was a potential target for her epithets.


I sighed, then took a deep breath and told him, "Now, we've hit the source of the problem. This is the root to all of your suffering!" The tongue can either be the gateway to salvation or the gateway to tribulations.


How was it so obvious to me that the root of the man's problems was his wife's incessant cursing? A hard spiritual fact of life is that curses are a boomerang that strike right back at their source. Our sages said, "A curse for no reason comes back to the person who cursed." More times than not, curses are unjustified and therefore return to plague the person who uttered them.


Rebbe Nachman of Breslev says that "A person may not curse unless he can see all the generations that will descend from the person he intends to curse." (Sefer Hamidot, "Curses").  Since no one is capable of meeting this criterion, no one has permission to curse. Cursing is an explicit violation of Torah. The Torah says, "You shall not curse a deaf person" (Leviticus 19:14); Rashi explains that one may not curse anyone.


The Torah is teaching us that one may not curse a person even if he doesn't hear the curse; all the more so, one should not curse a person who hears the curse, for this could lead to outright hostilities and destroy the peace. The Torah condemns the negative use of one of the Almighty's greatest gifts to mankind and man's greatest power – speech. Hashem wants speech to bring benefit to the world – peace, life and happiness; He wants everyone to bless one another and not the opposite. Let's conclude on a positive vein: don't forget this rule – he who blesses is blessed.

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  Hits home for me
Rachel Yosepha2/13/2018 5:56:04 PM

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