Simcha's Torah Stories - Vayeshev
MEASURE FOR MEASURE
"Avi, have you seen my birthday gift?"
"Mazel Tov, Chaim. May you have many, many more birthdays until 120."
"What did you get?"
"A set of different measuring tools. Here is a tape measure that is fifteen feet long."
"Here is a ruler that measures both inches and centimeters. The last piece in the set is a micrometer that measures microns."
"That's really small. It sounds like you can measure just about anything with this kit."
"Sure. Do you have anything to measure?"
"How about measuring a word."
"Measuring a word? What do you mean? The length of the word? That's easy. Just count the letters. You don't need any fancy tools for that."
"The number of letters is one measure of a word. That is not what I meant, however."
"Do you mean the Gematria (numerical value of a Hebrew word based on the letters) of a word Avi?"
"No, that's not what I mean either. I want to know if you can measure the effect of a word."
"That sounds pretty complicated. Can you give me an example, Avi?"
"In this week's parsha, Yosef HaTzaddik, our righteous ancestor Yosef, said some words that had a very big effect on his life."
"What did he say?"
"He spoke to his father Yaakov about some things that he felt his brothers were doing wrong. Among other things, he said that they were slaves, and that they had eaten meat that was not shechted (slaughtered according to Torah Law). He loved them and had only had their best interests in mind. He spoke to their father in order to correct the situation."
"What's wrong with that?"
"The Chofetz Chaim explains that one must tell the person directly about his fault. To tell someone else when you could have told the person himself is loshon hora (slander)."
"I'm in suspense, Avi. What effect did these words have on Yosef's life?"
"G-d made everything that Yosef said about his brothers happen to him. He called them slaves; therefore he was sold as a slave. He said that they were eating meat that was not shechted, therefore they shechted and animal and dipped his coat in its blood."
"That's incredible. Every word that he said was measured, weighed, and then sent back to him."
"Exactly, Chaim. That is what I mean by the measure of a word. Good words are stronger that the latest wonder drugs. They can make a person feel great, build up his confidence, even develop his talents. Bad words, G-d forbid, on the other hand can be more powerful than bombs and bullets. They can embarrass, depress, or even break a person. Yosef's words caused him to be sold as a slave, a pretty miserable fate."
"We have to measure our words pretty carefully, Avi."
"That's what I'm getting at Chaim. You received this measuring set for your birthday. I hope that it will always remind you, me, and everyone to always measure our words carefully before we say them. One of the rewards for guarding ones speech is a long life. In the merit of keeping this mitzvah, may you have many, many more birthdays."
"Avi, those are beautiful words. I can see that you measure your words carefully before you say them. G-d should reward you measure for measure with a long, productive life."
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