The Power of Speech

TALYA MILLER

What can we accomplish with our words? What effects do they have on us and the people we interact with?

On a basic level, speech is our way of communicating with the people around us. But if the purpose of speech is simply to communicate one’s needs, then my speech is not that much better than animal communication. Animals communicate with each other too. They might bark, chirp, or buzz instead of using words, but they get their point across to each other. So why do Chazal say that the power of speech is unique to human beings, if animals can communicate with each other also?

We can see the power of our words at the end of every Shabbos, before a person can start doing weekday activities they need to speak the words “Baruch HaMavdil bein Kodesh Lechol.” Your words create a new spiritual reality: a separation between Shabbos and the weekdays.

This entire world and everything contained within it were also created only through Hashem’s words, from ”יְהִי אוֹר” to “תַּדְשֵׁא הָאָרֶץ דֶּשֶׁא” and “נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם” Finally, on Day 6 of Creation, Hashem shared His power of speech with Adam, the first man: “וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים – Hashem blew a soul into man.” Chazal teach that this ” soul” contained the power of speech. Hashem wanted to share this gift with mankind.

Just as Hashem created this entire world with His speech, He gave mankind the same power to create and transform reality with our words.

By sharing our thoughts and feelings with another person, we can create close relationships. By offering an enthusiastic “Good morning!” we can completely transform someone’s mood. By offering a well-deserved compliment or words of encouragement, we can create confidence in someone who would otherwise be less self-assured.

However, just as words have the power to create, words also have the power to destroy. Words of gossip can destroy relationships, families, or even entire communities.

Speech is so much more than a tool for communication. Our words can create and destroy worlds. Try using your power of speech for positive, constructive things. Use your words to build people, create positive relationships, and transform the mundane elements of our lives into something holy.