Moon Over Maui

A Jewish Mystical Journey through the Year

Quiet Words Heal Under Nissan’s Full Moon

Written By: Jueli Garfinkle - Apr• 05•12

Beginning Friday evening at sundown (April 6, 2012), millions of people around the globe will gather under the full moon of Nissan to lounge comfortably, eat good food, drink wine, and talk story. Typically, the topic is the torturous yet always miraculous journey from enslavement to freedom.

The great 16th century rabbi and Jewish mystic Yitzchak Luria separated the Hebrew word for Passover, Nissan’s full moon festival, into two words: Peh (“the mouth”) and Sach (“speaks”) “The mouth speaks.” It alludes to the depth and healing power of your speech: The ways in which your “mouth speaks” affect you, everyone around you, the world, even the universe.

With few exceptions, you are free (and have been since 1791) to say aloud anything you wish (First amendment of the US Constitution, Freedom of Speech). Yet, once a word is spoken it cannot be unspoken. And if uttered in haste or reaction, reverberations cause irreversible consequences to yourself and others.

A classic technique for dealing with reactive speech is to speak in a soft tone of voice or remain silent whenever you are emotionally triggered (Orchos Tzadikum, ch. 12). This technique may be easy to dismiss, especially in North America where people feel entitled and encouraged to express their feelings and voice their opinions. Still, the power of speaking softly will stun you. It may even curve situations toward your favor.

My four-year-old, for example, whacked my leg yesterday releasing his full expression of frustration because I wouldn’t let him wear his cleats in the house. I felt reactive anger flair through my body, but I said nothing. I took a deep breath and remembered my commitment to speak softly this moon cycle. “Ouch,” I said, with deep quiet expression. “That really hurt.”  I looked at him, silently counseling myself to say nothing else. Almost without hesitation my boy shifted. He threw his arms around my waist and hugged me close. “I’m sorry, Mommy,” he said.

See for yourself how speaking softly affects you and those around you. The journey from enslavement to freedom—moment-to-moment—may be only a soft word away. I was surprised. Maybe you will be, too.

As a practice, try speaking in a soft tone of voice for the eight days of Pesach (Friday, April 6 through Saturday, April 14). Don’t raise your voice. Don’t allow your “mouth to speak” without consideration. Be as intentional with your words as possible and, no matter what, commit to speaking quietly.

Let me how it goes and what you experience.

Happy Passover!


Please note: The practice of speaking softly, is found in Orchos Tzadikum, a 14th century classic book of ethics written by an anonymous author. I read about this practice in the books: Gateway to Happiness, by Zelig Pliskin, and Jewish Spiritual Practices by Yitzhak Buxbaum.

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One Comment

  1. Lee Lavi says:

    What a great practice!
    So far, I’m loving the effects.

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