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