Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL


Rabbi Rafi RankYou know that saying, words are cheap.  It’s a lie.  Words are not at all cheap.  There is a cost to every word we use, and like an investment, our words may bring back a rich return while others come back to haunt us, sapping us of our energy, our reputations, and in some cases, our bank accounts.  Because people rarely stop to consider the cost of words, they regularly squander words on lies, curses, slander and lashon hara.  These are words that cost us dearly.  But the language of prayer is, well, language itself, and words can as easily be used to thank, praise, encourage, comfort, humor and inspire those around us.  These are the words that bring back rich returns as we create an environment around us that is positive and reverent of life.

If you ever want to turn an unhealthy family dynamic on its head, try this.  Ask your children if you may bless them.  After they catch their breath or close their mouths, put your hands on their heads and say very simply—

Yevarekhekh Adonai veyishmerekha

May God bless you and protect you

Do such blessings work?  When recited with sincerity, they do.  They bring the blessed a sense of importance, safety, specialness, and peace, and render the blesser an instrument of God and thus a person to respect if not revere.  In parashat Vayehi, Jacob blesses his grandchildren.  He places his hands on their heads as if the blessing were to seep through their bodies, from head to toe.

Jacob knew the cost involved in words.  His deceptive words with his own father forced him into a twenty year exile from his family.  His father-in-law’s deceptive words forced him to work twice as long for the hand of his beloved Rachel.  By the end of his life, Jacob was not going to abuse words—he understood the costs too well.  And when he ends up blessing his grandchildren, he creates a paradigm of blessing that is still used in traditional homes today—how’s that for a rich return!

Lots of people curse; far fewer bless.  I wish the reverse were true.  I wish that people had the faith in themselves that they can convey words of blessing to their children.  As for everyone else, we don’t have to walk around blessing them, but what a different world it would be if we took the time to offer a kind word to them more often that we do. 

Return to Cyber Rav ArchivesBack to Top