“. . . Pi Hachiros . . .” (Bamidbar/Numbers 33:7). The Israelites’ journeys are recounted, Pi Hachiros being one of the stops. It there anything to be learned from the places they encamped?
The parsha for this Sabbath is a double one, Mattos and Masei. Mattos discusses the matter of taking a vow, the war against Midian and its aftermath including how to make utensils kosher, and the tribes of Rueben, Gad, and half of Manasheh asking to have their portion of land on the eastern side of the Jordan River.
Parshas Masei reviews the journey taken by the Israelites from Egypt through the wilderness and ending at the border of the land of Israel. Also, it gives instructions on how the land will be divided and for designating cities for the Levites and Cities of Refuge as well as who is eligible to seek sanctuary in them.
The Sefer Glilai Zahav notes that Pi Hachiros is a form of idolatry observed with complete freedom of the mouth. A person said whatever he wanted no matter how insulting or slanderous his words.
Sadly, today many people behave this way under the guise of being honest or true to themselves. No matter how harsh or insensitive, they say whatever enters their heads unmindful of how much pain and suffering they cause others.
Such behavior is antithetical to creating a relationship with G-d, since among the most important ways to do so is to take care of His children. Rather, no matter how someone else is behaving, you should take pleasure in holding your tongue and refraining from inflicting emotional harm. Such behavior will confirm to you that you are a kind person. The more brutal the verbal assault of you, the greater joy you should take in not responding in kind.
Sincere and useful criticism that is conveyed with empathy is appropriate. In such a case the recipient should be able to discern that you are motivated by love. To be able to compassionately re-direct another person’s behavior is to emulate the Almighty at the highest level.
What can you do about having had less than a self-controlled tongue in the past? From now on, go out of your way to give others strength and encouragement. When you elevate the way you use the gift of speech, you atone for prior mistakes.
Question – How do you develop self-restraint against making verbal attacks?
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