Offer a Good Word

Yael Eckstein  |  April 15, 2021

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the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the person to be cleansed.” — Leviticus 14:4

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is a double reading, Tazria-Metzora, from Leviticus 12:1—15:33. Tazria means “conceived,” and Metzora means “diseased.”

Occasionally, on Friday nights at our Shabbat meal, my family and I will play the following game. We start with one family member, and then each person at the table has to say his or her three favorite things about that person. Then we move on to the next person until everyone has been showered with loving and encouraging words.

It’s amazing to see our children glow after receiving their compliments and how much joy saying kind words can bring. My husband and I want our children to experience not only how words can tear others down and hurt them, but also how we can use speech to offer a good word and build up another person and make others happy.

Offer a Good Word

In this week’s Torah portion, we read about the purification process for an individual afflicted with the defiling skin disease. One stage required two birds, one to be slaughtered and one that was ultimately set free. God designated birds as part of the process because they are creatures that constantly chirp and chatter. According to Jewish tradition, the sin of the afflicted person was inappropriate speech, and so birds were symbolically appropriate for the sin at hand.

The bird that was sacrificed symbolized negative speech and the necessity to obliterate it from our lives. The second bird represented positive speech and was set free to demonstrate that positive words must permeate our lives. You see, it’s not enough to refrain from saying hurtful things. We also are called to use the God-given gift of speech to offer a good word and bring goodness to the world.

Think of all the ways that we can use our speech for good purposes. We can pray, share God’s Word with others, or speak God’ praises. We can say, “I love you,” and “thank you,” much more often. We can encourage others, compliment someone, or ask how they are feeling.

When we focus on all of the great things that we can say – and should say – every single day, we’ll be so busy saying the good stuff, that we won’t even have time for the other stuff!

Your Turn:

Share some positive words with us in the comments below! What will you say in order to increase the light and love of God in the world?