The first of the ten commandments, 'I am the Lord your God' begins with the word 'ANoKchiY', a strange construction of the word 'I'. The rabbis of the Talmud tell us that this funky word may contain a secret - it hints at an acronym: 'Amirah Naima Ketivah Yehiva' - 'Pleasant words were written and given'. The Torah, who's 'ways are ways of pleasantness', is what they are talking about. The hasidic master Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev added to that this idea: "A thing that is said does not persist, but a thing that is written will persist forever."
In our own lives, we spend our days in constant conversation, some of it good and important, and some of it idle or thoughtless. What if our speech were constantly written down? It seems certain to me that we would be more circumspect about what we say. We would we say less, and think more. We would speak with words of pleasantness more and words of anger and frustration less. In other words, we would make our spoken words more worthy of being written down if we consider them more carefully, and model them after the great written work that instructs us in the ways of pleasantness: the Torah itself. Let us make our lives and our words more like Torah - worthy of being recounted for many years to come.
- Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman
Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman is the spiritual leader of Brith Sholom Jewish Center in Erie, PA. These are a collection of thoughts and writings since he joined the community in Erie. For more of his past writings, click here.