Thursday, April 25, 2013

Healing Emotions through Speech

Special B'erot Bonfire
 I’m working on channeling the healing energy of Iyar through my EmunaHealing workshops. It’s 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 my online students, who requested that I elaborate on how we heal our emotions through speech.

With Blessings of the Torah and the Land
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

Read Rebbetzin's commentary to Haftorat Emor - "The Power of Challah" 

Parasha Meditation Emor
Vayikra 21:1-24:23
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 life and vitality, 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 opens 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. Our parasha goes into length to tell the story of the son of Shelomit bat Dibri who blasphemed and cursed G*d with his speech, and was publically put to death.[6]

Healing Emotions through Speech
Going back to our 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 both 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 expressions 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 – neshamah, (intellectual soul), ruach, (emotional soul) and nefesh (the most physical soul) – correspond respectively to the three garments of our soul: thought, speech and action.[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 depression are examples of emotional blockages that block the Divine life-force from manifesting 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 be angry.

The Connection between Speech and Emunah
In addition to the intonation, our choices of whom to speak with and what to speak about, as well as the words we choose, also have the ability to elevate our emotions. Constantly expressing words of praise for Hashem and appreciation for our fellows help ingrain within us the emotion of gratitude. Gratitude engenders happiness and acceptance, which again raise our spirits, emotions and vitality. David HaMelech (King David) 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.

Fire, Water and Air – The Elements of Speech
אמר – “Emor” – the name of his week’s parasha consists of the three letters: א – “alef,” מ –“mem,” and ר –“reish.” These three letters are the acronym for the three main elements: אֵש – aish – fire, מַיִם – mayim – water, and רוּח– ruach – air.[11] 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 a 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.

Summary of Practical Tips to Heal our Emotions through Speech
1. Overcome pride and anger by speaking gently without raising your voice.
2. Develop gratitude by expressing words of praise to Hashem and appreciation for people.
3. Whenever you face difficulties accustom yourself to say: “gam zu l’tova” – this too is for the good.
4. Work on making yourself happy by choosing to speak about positive uplifting matters.

Make yourself comfortable in your chair or cushion. Close your eyes and become aware of your breath.

1. 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 chest.

2. Get in touch with how your chest rises and falls, as you fill it with air through your inhalation and deflate it as you exhale.

3. With your hands on your throat, feel how the air is passing through your esophagus, as you slowly breathe in and out.

4. Repeat the entire sequence of three breaths each to your belly, chest and throat, as you imagine the Hebrew letters that spell the word רוּח – ruach – air. Feel how the entire cavity within you aspires towards spirituality and holiness, as you take in Hashem’s life-giving air.

5. Continue to breathe calmly, as you imagine yourself dipping your feet in the calm sea on a hot summer day. Feel how the soothing, cooling water softens your skin.

6. 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.

7. Continue imagining yourself calming down in the water, letting go of all your worries, as you visualize the Hebrew letters that spell the word מַיִם – mayim – water.

8. Keep breathing calmly and ease 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.

9. Allow the radiating flame to etch itself into your heart, burning away the indifferent, lazy, and complacent barrier 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.

10. Visualize the Hebrew letters that spell the word אֵש – aish – fire, as you unearth and get in touch with your inner flame. Allow this flame to fill your entire being with bright, exhilarating, and 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.

11. Take several deep breaths and notice if you feel more in tune with the elements of your emotions.

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) – vayedaber – to Moshe saying, (לֵּאמֹר) – l’emor, –“speak”  (דַבֵּר) – daber unto…”[13] Here the root דבר – diber is mentioned twice while the root אמר – amar is mentioned only once. The triple repetition of the word אמר in the opening verse of Parashat Emor may possibly allude to the three elements (fire, water, and air) that we need to elevate through sanctification of life and speech. Both life and speech characterize 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 bat Dibri. It is also interesting to note that specifically the root אמר is used in the Ten Utterances with which Hashem created the world.[14] Originally, 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. אַבְרָא כְּאַדַבְּרָה – “Abra k’adabra” –“I will create as I speak!”

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


  1. thank you Rebbetzin for always your wonderful insight and teaching may HASHEM Bless you always.

  2. is it possible to speak words of healing to our womb so it will be healed and opened even if infertility seems to be prevelent?