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by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

The Midrash relates the following story about a great Talmudic sage:

Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamliel said to his servant Tovi: "Go and buy me the best piece of meat in the market."

He went and came back with tongue.

He then said to him: "Go out and buy me the worst piece."

He went and again came back with tongue.

Rabbi Shimon asked for an explanation

He replied: "When it is good, it is very good and when it is bad it is terrible."


The lesson from this story is simple but powerful.

The tongue is a symbol of speech. Communication is the most powerful tool that a human being has. It connects us to others, strengthens our relationships, allows us to share ideas and inspiration, clears up misunderstandings and provides the ability to express deep emotion.


But here is the warning. Words are very rarely (if ever) neutral. When it is not constructive or beneficial, the way we talk and use the tool of communication can be detrimental and destructive.


Words can build those around us but they can be hurtful and leave permanent scars. Communication can nurture relationships but can also destroy them. It can unite us or cause division. Speech can express love or promote hate.

Our tongue is the greatest gift that G-d gave us. It is up to us to ensure that it's the best and not the worst.

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