Thursday, July 18, 2013


Sometimes a word or nickname becomes synonymous with an object and a part of our traditional practice. A great example of this in the Jewish world is a shviti - a meditative plaque usually placed in front of the shaliach tzibur in a synagogue.
Some siddurim have them on inside cover as an place for inspiration or direction and despite the variety of the verses or text on a page, they all have the verse from Psalms 16:8 - "I have set (shiviti) the Lord always before me".

Today I'd like to offer a similar conceptual leap to share a 'sefati' - from the verse that opens every davening:
אֲדֹנָי שְׂפָתַי תִּפְתָּח וּפִי יַגִּיד תְּהִלָּתֶךָ
 Hashem open my lips and let my mouth declare Your Praise

In reflecting about much of the Jewish political atmosphere around Tisha B'Av I was really reminded about the power of our words.  Two Haredi voices here and here really pointed out how there is a significant element lacking in the language used between religious Jews - urging great caution and care.  With this in mind, and looking forward to the introspective days of Elul and Rosh Hashana (spoiler alert: they are six weeks away), I recommend pausing and asking for some divine help to get the right words out of one's mouth before decrying, criticizing, or even commenting on the public domain.  Perhaps if we had that everpresent feeling that a judge or recorder of all of our thoughts and actions was in our very midst - always before me - we would be more careful to make this world a better place. 

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