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Words From The Heart

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Heart, Words From, Enter the Heart, Phrase, Orign & Meaning

Carol Conaway wrote via the Internet:

Dear Rabbi,

While on a plane from Boston to Philadelphia two weeks ago, I happened to look at the cover of the book the man seated next to me was reading. On the back cover of the book, the following quotation appeared: "Words written from the heart, enter the heart." As a scholar and professor, I was very moved by the quotation and wrote it down for my own keeping. The quote was attributed to "The Sages."

I would like to ask: Where do these words appear in the vast writings of The Sages? I would be very grateful if you could find the time to provide me with an exact reference so that I might consult the entire text and see in what context the statement was made.


Dear Dr. Carol B. Conaway,

"Words which emanate from the heart, enter the heart" is sometimes quoted in the name of "the Sages," meaning that it is from the Mishnah, Talmud or Midrash. But the truth is that the source for this phrase is a bit of a mystery! Although it has indeed become an accepted Jewish teaching, it does not seem to appear in any of the above mentioned sources!

I've seen it advanced that "Words which emanate from the heart, enter the heart" is a paraphrase of the statement in the Talmud that "Anyone who has fear of Heaven, his words will be heard and accepted." I personally don't see this as being the correct source, as it doesn't speak about the sincerity of the words which "emanate from the heart."

I would like to propose that the phrase is an application of the principle taught by King Solomon in Proverbs: "As water [reflecting] the face is to the face, so a man's heart is to [his fellow] man." Meaning that the human heart intuits the emotions of others, and thus if one speaks with an open heart, the heart of the listener will be open as well.

In the late 1800's Poland issued a ban against shechita (ritual slaughter of animals). It is told that Rabbi Yisrael Meyer Kagan, the Chafetz Chaim, came before the Polish officials to plead for the rescinding of this decree which would cause tremendous hardship for Poland's Jews. The Chafetz Chaim pleaded passionately, in Yiddish. When he'd finished and the translator began translating into Polish, the official said, "Stop. You don't need to translate." He was so moved by the Chafetz Chaim's words, even though he hadn't understood them, that he agreed to do all he could to help rescind the decree.

Sources:

  • Tractate Berachot 6b
  • Proverbs 27:19, see Metzudot David


 
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