Minute #596: Nicer Way

“This toy is junk!” Binyamin said. “It’s garbage and it doesn’t work!”

“Now, now,” Mom said. “Let me take a look at it and maybe I can get it to operate.”

“Garbage!” the 11-year-old repeated.

“Binyamin Feldman, watch your tongue!” Mom said sternly. “I don’t like the way you’re talking. Even if the toy is a disappointment, you must learn to say things in a nicer way.”

The ways of our Torah are ways of pleasantness (Mishlei 3:17) and at the forefront of our demonstration of refinement is the manner of speech we employ. There are many ways to express an idea and we are expected to choose the high ground in our selection of words and tone of voice. The Gemara teaches: “One must always speak in a clean manner” (Pesachim 3b), which means if there’s a harsh way or an “unclean” way to express one’s feelings and opinions, one should reject that course and speak in a manner which royalty would use in the courts of government. If our young man’s toy doesn’t meet the standards expected, he could say, “This toy is not the quality I would expect.” Some other non-abusive comment such as “This is not worth the full value of what I paid” would indicate a person who belongs to the royal family much more than the use of the words “junk” and “garbage.”

Our Sages tell of many incidents where a person’s speech revealed a potential for great success or, on the other hand, uncovered flaws in lineage and personality traits. Your thoughts are the inner being that is “you.” Your words expose your inner self to the outside world. Before you reveal the real you to others, dress yourself in fine clothing and put your best foot forward. Choose your words wisely.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

The Torah wants us to look at all situations that we as people face, and to see that all those who come against us are puppets. Somebody is utilizing them for a purpose. It’s not them that we essentially have to deal with. It is the Master of the World that we have to deal with. (Rabbi Simcha Wasserman, Reb Simcha Speaks, p.123)