The Words We Exalt
The portion Tazria discusses lashon hara, the negativity that is created through evil speech. We have previously talked about the damage that speaking words of lashon hara can do. However, I’d like to share another idea about the importance of the words that we speak.
It says in Proverbs, Ish Lefi Mahalalo. Rabbenu Yonah, the great kabbalist from Gerona, Spain, in The Gates of Repentance, explains this to mean that if we want to know who a person is and what state of consciousness he is in, then we need to find out what is coming out of his mouth. Essentially, what are the things that he or she exalts? What is important to him, and what are his priorities?
The way to know an individual’s state of consciousness is not based on their connections or study. It is by listening to them, and hearing the things they speak highly about, the things they espouse as being good. For example, there are people who go to hours and hours of classes and connections per week, yet when they are out, talk about money throughout a whole conversation. Clearly, then, money is important to this person, because Ish Lefi Mahalalo; we get a real indication of people’s state of consciousness not by what spiritual connections they are making or what they are studying, but rather, what they exalt.
A person who in his conversations speaks highly about, and places priority on, spiritual connection, acts of kindness, and individuals who are truly working on themselves, then regardless of what else he or she does, even if it is negative actions, in their core is a connection to the Light of the Creator
Taking it one step further, we can also know about ourselves, and what state of consciousness we are truly in, by thinking about ourselves and the conversations we have that are not of the spiritual kind. What was the effect of that conversation - to exalt spiritual connection or kindness, or was it other things? Because that is the greatest indication of a person; whether a person is doing positive or negative actions is secondary.
We need to ask ourselves, what comes out in a conversation that is an indication of our consciousness? What are the things that stand out? What are the things that are important in our eyes - is it spiritual connection, spiritual work, or actions of kindness? If those are the areas that we find ourselves speaking about when we are in conversations with others, and those are the areas that they, too, place as a priority, then we can know that both they, and we, are connected.
Even if someone is the most spiritual person in the world, meaning he does connections and all the spiritual actions, but in his mind and words that he speaks that is not what is exalted, then it is an indication that he is not that connected. Because Ish Lefi Mahalalo; what an individual exalts is what the individual is. And regardless of what connections he makes, if it's not exalted in his speech or in his mind, then the individual is not connected.
Conversely, a person can be doing negative actions, but if in his mind, and then, his words, knows that the only thing in life is spiritual connection, spiritual work, kindness, and so on, he is still connected to the Light of the Creator, because Ish Lefi Mahalalo. The question, therefore, is not whether we are perfect or are doing only positive actions; the question is what is the most important thing in our minds. If the most exalted thing in our minds is connection to the Light of the Creator, then it therefore affects the words that come out of our mouths. It is a very important understanding that we can gain on Shabbat Tazria-Metzora.