Speak up UP

Friday, 8 May, 2020 - 5:24 am

By the Grace of G-d

Dear Friend,

A little six-year-old boy won’t talk. 

His Mother takes him to the doctor, who says, “He’s fine. Just give him time." 

A couple months later, his Mother takes him to a Child Psychologist, who says, "He's fine. Just give him time." 

A couple months later, his Mother is cooking his breakfast and she accidentally burns his toast. Scraping the burnt toast over the sink, She thinks to herself, "He'll never know the difference". And she serves the toast. 

As she turns back to the sink, the little boy says, “This toast is burnt!" 

Shocked, the Mother turns and says, “What did you say?" 

"This toast is burnt!" 

She says,"OMG! You're talking! What happened? Why did you take so long to talk?" 

"Up till now, everything was OK."

I was reminded of this joke when in connection with the name of this week’s portion which is ‘Emor’ which literally means ‘say’.

What should you say? 

Isn’t it better to ‘not say’?

Well it depends what you are about to say.

Granted, it is safer and easier to remain silent and say nothing at all. 

That is the punch line of the above joke. It was easier for the kid to be quiet. Everything was going fine. Only when something went wrong did he find it necessary to speak.

You will not get into trouble by not talking. You won’t say anything wrong.

On the other hand, you will be losing out on so much.

There is so much that can be achieved by positive speech. 

Expressing your gratitude to those who care for you.

Complimenting someone else about something nice they have done. 

Giving someone encouragement when they go through difficult times. 

The power of positive reinforcement is very well known.

The name of this week’s Parsha says it all. It reminds us to say positive things. The Torah is encouraging us to use our power of speech to be uplifting, inspirational and complimentary of others.

Our choice of words can have far reaching results.

There is a fascinating program I just saw where the Rebbe addresses a meeting of disabled Israeli war veterans during a visit they paid to the USA click here to see the fascinating program 

The Rebbe expressed his unease with the term usually used to describe this group in Hebrew which was ‘Nechei Tzahal’ the ‘handicapped of the IDF’ and insisted on referring to them as ‘Metzuyanei Tzahal’ the ‘exceptional of the IDF’.

As the Rebbe went on to explain, if the Almighty had challenged them in this way, He had definitely given them extraordinary and exceptional abilities to overcome obstacles that other ‘ordinary’ people didn’t have access to.

That extraordinariness needed to be appreciated, not hidden away from sight or shied away from.

This was in 1976. 

It was an inspirationally progressive way of reframing what had traditionally been spoken of in depressing language.

On the one hand we pray from the depth of our hearts that all children be born healthy and that all of humanity be blessed with fully formed bodies and fully functional systems. 

We thank Hashem every morning for all of the blessings of our senses and our bodily form and functions. We dare not take all those phenomenal blessings for granted.

On the other hand, there is something unique and exceptional about those who are created differently. 

As a society and as a people we would be sorely lacking if we didn’t include and learn from the exceptional people in our midst. 

 At the core of the Rebbe’s teachings is that none of us is complete unless all of us are included. 

This concept did not remain in the realm of speech. It led to the birth of one of the most heartwarming programs. 

The ‘Friendship Circle’ with more than eighty chapters around the world.

Here is a brief look at their work (taken from their website).

How we see it:

Everyone in this world has a unique purpose. When we focus on abilities instead of disabilities, those with special needs can be part of the strongest friendships and influence people in positive ways that others can’t. Unwavering acceptance, positive thinking, honesty, and commitment are just a few of the important lessons these individuals teach by example.

What we do

Friendship Circle chapters in local communities create meaningful relationships and friendships between teen volunteers and children with special needs, increasing confidence, igniting dreams, and redefining worldviews for both parties.


Words used properly have the power to uplift and motivate! 

They create change in the world!

Focus on the exceptional. Not on the handicapped. 

I like this catchy phrase which has become popular during our current crisis.

Wash your hands well. And every time you do, remember whose hands you are in.’

Join the forces of creating change for the better through positive thoughts, speech and action!

Every thought, speech or action adds to the growing force of good energy and loving-kindness amassing in the stratosphere pushing the world ever-closer to the Redemption. 

Say something loving to a family member or friend.

Keep silent from saying something disparaging.

Never talk about other people behind their backs.

Compliment someone when you see them doing something positive

Zoom and all other forms of communications are great tools for all of this. Its never been easier to communicate! People have never had more time to listen and think! Humanity is inspired and ready to change for the better.

May Mashiach come NOW!!!!

Rabbi Yosef Kantor

PS if you have the time to listen to a heartwarming

story of ‘compassion done exquisitely’ I think you will be inspired. 



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