Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

21 Cheshvan 5762 - November 7, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
Refinement Through Speech

by R' Zvi Zobin

A week after Shavuos, Mr. and Mrs. Israel left their little Yeshayale by their uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Fried, while they went shopping. Yeshayale is a normal, active little boy and it was not long before he did something which brought on him a few words of rebuke from his aunt.

"You must not touch that, Yeshayale!" said his aunt.

Yeshayale turned to her and responded, "My Mommy can kill you."

Of course, Mrs. Fried was shocked at what Yeshayele said and told him that he must not say things like that. Yeshayele was not dismayed. He said, "Sorry," and continued playing.

Yeshayale's parents returned soon after. Mr. and Mrs. Fried quietly ushered their niece and nephew into a room and told them about the incident.

"Yes, we know about that and we are very worried," Yeshayale's father replied. "Yeshayale goes to a very good kindergarten and before Pesach, his teacher taught the children a song about how Hashem killed all the Egyptian firstborn before He took the Jews out of Egypt. Since then, all the children have been talking about killing. We have discussed this with other parents and we do not know how to get it out of their heads. We all keep telling our children that they must not use such words but we are not succeeding."


This incident took place about two months after Yeshayale learned the song. The gannenet is a fine young lady and obviously, her sole intention was to convey Hashem's greatness and might. Yet, somehow, she implanted a "bad word" into the minds of her children.

We cannot blame her for the effect her words had on her charges. In previous years, the children did not react, but it is possible that because during this past year reportings of acts of terrorism were "in the air", her words activated in the children the latent awareness to them. Chazal do say that in times of licentious liberty, one should "lean to the other extreme" and this incident illustrates how careful we need to be in choosing our words.

The Gemora in the beginning of Pesochim devotes two pages to discussing the importance of selecting only the most refined words when speaking. In other places, the Gemora relates how Bruria rebuked students who spoke in a sloppy manner.

The quality of the words one chooses when speaking reflects one's innermost personality. But it works both ways. By selecting words correctly, a person can work on refining his own personality.

Parents do not have to be therapists in order to help mold their children's characters by teaching them to speak nicely.

It is not simply dealing with the "bad words"' which children might bring home from kindergarten and school and street. It is also teaching them to look for refined ways of expressing themselves. This includes good manners such as saying, "Please" and "Thank you" and "May I help you," It also includes training the child to take time to work out what he wants to say so that he says it clearly and in an organized way.

The child also needs to learn to project how his `audience' is going to react to what he says. At first, a child says whatever he thinks, and the embarrassment that this might cause is mitigated by the fact that he is "just a baby." But a parent can explain that as a child gets older, people attach more importance to his words.

On the one hand, a parent needs to have an open relationship with his child so that s/he feels free to be able to speak spontaneously and express his true feelings to his parents. On the other hand, the child needs to learn not to blurt out whatever comes to his mind first.


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