Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Healing Emotions through Speech

A proud mother and other "fruits" of Rebbetzin's garden
The healing energy of the Hebrew month of Iyar is in its zenith as we approach the inner flames of Lag B’Omer. I’m working on channeling this energy through the two EmunaHealing workshops, I began this week, one online and the other in my home. Its amazing to experience the overwhelming interest in Jewish energy healing. I’m excited that this week’s parasha: “Emor” – “Say” inspired me to answer a question of one of the students in my online class, who requested that I elaborate on how we heal our emotions through speech. Please keep your questions coming, they guide me in my research! 

Shabbat Shalom!
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

Outside of Israel, Parashat Acharei Mot-Kedoshim is read this week. Click here for Rebbetzin's Parsha Meditaion for Acharei Mot-Kedoshim: Spiritual Healing is Required to fulfill the Mitzvah “Love your fellow as yourself…”

Click here for Rebbetzin's commentary to Haftorat Emor: The Power of Challah

Parasha Meditation, Emor
Vayikra 21:1-24:23

Healing Emotions through Speech
How do we heal our Emotions through Speech?
This week’s parasha is called “Emor” which means “say.” Parashat Emor is juxtaposed to Parashat Kedoshim – “Holiness,” because the word “emor” infuses the Kohanim and the Israelites with the superior holiness of keeping the Divine word. One of the students in my recent online EmunaHealing Seminar asked the following question: “Please elaborate on what you mentioned that we have the ability to heal our emotions through speech, how do we do that?”

Speech is Life
Speech is the way we express ourselves as human beings. At our original creation in the Garden of Eden “G-d blew His living soul into Adam’s nostrils, and he became a living spirit.”[1] The Targum [2] translates “living spirit” as “speaking spirit.” True life and vitality of the human being is expressed specifically through speech.

Holiness, Life & Sanctification of Speech
The connection between ultimate life and speech is alluded to at the beginning of Parashat Emor,[3] which instructs the Kohanim to be extra careful not to become impure, because of their special holy status, as servants in G-d’s sanctuary.[4] In the Torah, holiness is linked to vitality and life, as opposed to death and necromancy. This is why Parashat Kedoshim concludes with the prohibition to be a medium for doing witchcraft through the dead,[5] while Parashat Emor begins with the prohibition for the Kohanim to become impure by having contact with the dead. From here, we may conclude that holiness and sanctification of speech is connected with life. This principle is confirmed by the end of Parashat Emor, describing how ultimate misuse of speech results in death. The parasha goes into length to tell the story of the son of Shelomit who blasphemed and cursed G-d with his speech, and was publicly put to death.[6]

Healing Emotions through Speech
Going back to the original question, how to heal emotions through speech, we can now understand that the choice of our words and the way we express ourselves in speech influences and is an expression of the quality of our vitality. While death is stiff and stagnant, that which is alive flows, moves and changes. Therefore, our emotions which also are expression of our life and vitality are called “e-motions” in English, linking emotions with the motion and movement of life. Kabbalah teaches us that the three main parts of our soul: Neshama, (The intellectual soul), Ruach, (The emotional soul) and Nefesh (the most physical soul) correspond respectively to the three garments of our soul, thought, speech and actions.[7] The Ruach corresponds to speech because we express our emotions through speech. Our emotions are also an expression of our vitality. The amount of life that we radiate corresponds to the extent that we are able to express the emotion of love. Anger, jealousy and depressions, are all emotional blockages that block the Divine life-force to manifest within us. Through speech we have the ability to rectify our emotions, and thus learn to become more and more truly alive. Ramban, in his famous letter,[8] instructs us: “Speak gently at all times.” This will help us overcome negative emotions such as pride and anger. When we always speak gently, without ever raising our voice, it becomes virtually impossible to become angry.

The Connection between Speech and Emunah
In addition to the intonation, our choice of whom to speak with and what to speak about, as well as our vocabulary also has the ability to elevate our emotions. Constantly expressing words of praise for Hashem and appreciation for fellows help ingrain within us the emotion of gratitude. Gratitude engenders happiness and acceptance which again raise our spirits, emotions and vitality. David HaMelech extols: “I have faith for I speak.”[9] Through speaking words of emunah (faith), we have the ability to strengthen the emunah in our hearts. Nachum Ish Gam Zu of the Talmud suffered much in life, but nevertheless he would always respond to every difficulty with: “gam zu letovah – this too is for the good.”[10] By accustoming ourselves to face difficulties with words of faith and acceptance, we gradually build our emunah, happiness, and vitality.

The name this week’s parasha is “Emor” אמר consists of the three letters “alef,” – אmem,” – מ and “reish” – ר. These three letters are the acronym for the three main elements:[11] אש – aish – fire, מים – mayim – water, and רוח– ruach – air. These elements are the expression of our emotions, through “fire” we can either express the negative emotion of anger, or elevate it into passion and excitement for the Torah. Through “water” we can either be filled with pleasure- seeking, or become calm like the cool soft waves of the lake on a sunny day. The element of “air” can make us nervous, or help us rise upwards in our yearning to increase spirituality and holiness in our life.

Make yourself comfortable in your chair or cushion, close your eyes and become aware of your breath. Your breath is the expression of your ruach – air. Place your hands on your stomach, and note how you can fill your belly with clean fresh air as you inhale, and empty it as you exhale. Repeat this calming breathing several times before moving your hands to your chests. Get in touch with how your chest rises and falls, as you fill it with air through your inhalation, and inflate it as you exhale. With your hands on your throat feel how the air is passing through your esophagus, as you slowly breathe in and out. Repeat the entire sequence of three breath each to your belly, chest and throat, as you imagine the Hebrew letters that spell the word רוחruach – air. Feel how the entire cavity within you aspires towards spirituality and holiness, as you take in Hashem’s life-giving air.

Continue to breathe calmly, as you imagine yourself dipping your feet in the calm sea on a hot summer day. Feel the soothing cooling water soften your skin. Allow yourself to truly relax and become enveloped by the calming softness of the gentle waves. You may imagine yourself deliciously floating, as all worries and fears melt away. Allow the waters to penetrate any tension you may carry in your body, until each tension dissolves in the sea. Continue imagining yourself calming down in the water, letting go of all your worries, as you visualize the Hebrew letters that spell the word מיםmayim – water.

Continue your calm breathing and easing yourself of fears and tensions through the tranquil water, as you imagine the flames of the Shabbat candles. Try to visualize its blue core turning into a yellow, orange and red glow. Allow the radiating flame to etch itself into your heart, burning away the indifference, lazy complacent foreskin surrounding your vibrant beating heart. Take your time to very slowly burn away each part of the blockage, as your imaginary flame touches the circumference of your heart. Visualize the Hebrew letters that spell the word אש aish – fire, as you unearth and get in touch with your inner flame. Allow this flame to fill your entire being with bright exhilarating warming light. As the flame dances within you, imagine yourself dancing with delight, while your entire being is engaged in a particular mitzvah of your choice.

The root אמר appears three times in the opening verse of Parashat Emor: “Hashem said ((וַיֹּאמֶר to Moshe, say (אֱמֹר) to the Kohanim, the sons of Aharon, and say (וְאָמַרְתָּ) to them… [12]

This verse is written in a different style of language, than the rest of the Torah. Throughout the Torah and even in the continuation of Parashat Emor, the beginning of every command is written in the following style “Hashem spoke ((וַיְדַבֵּר to Moshe saying, ((לֵּאמֹר speak דַּבֵּר)) unto…”[13]. Here the root דבר – diber is mentioned twice while אמר – emor is mentioned only once. The triple repetition of the word אמר in the opening verse of Parashat Emor may possible allude to the three levels of life and of holiness (fire, water, and air) that characterizes this week’s parasha, beginning by prohibiting the Kohanim from contact with the dead, and concluding in the defilement of speech by the son of Shelomit. It is also interesting to note that specifically the root אמר is used in the Ten Utterances with which Hashem created the word.[14] Original light and life came into being by Hashem’s word אמר. Likewise we have the ability to emulate Hashem and create life with our words!

[1] Bereishit 2:7.
Both Targum Onkelus and Targum Yonatan on Bereishit 2:7.
Vayikra 21:1.
Vayikra 21:7.
Vayikra 20:27.
Vayikra 24:10-16.
See for example, the Rama of Pa’no, Article about the Soul, Part 4, Chapter 4.
Igeret HaRamban, written to his elder son, Nachman, with the instruction to read it weekly.
Tehillim 116:10.
Babylonian Talmud, Ta’anit 21a.
Rav Tzvi Elimelech Shapiro, Agra d’Kala, page 300/51 and many other kabbalistic and chassidic writings. The element of Earth – afar— עפר consist of a fusion of the main three elements.
Vayikra 21:1.
Vayikra 21:17, I found this style written in the Torah written 41 times in the Torah.
See chapter one of Bereishit where Hashem created the world in six days through His speech described by the Hebrew root אמר.


  1. Chana Bracha,


    I enjoyed your Torah on Healing Emotions with speech. Some of my most favorite Torahs of my own are when I connect the beginning of the parsha with the ending. In Emor, the story of the ???? is [apparently] so disconnected from the entire parsha, that it seems to make no sense at all. Voila! comes your Torah and puts it all together. Gevaldt!

    Gut Shabbos,
    P.S. Love the picture of mamma and brood

  2. Love this one Rebbetzin great words of Torah wisdom! You always connect me on deeper levels to each Parashas with your weekly writings, thanks!