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Beit Midrash Jewish Laws and Thoughts Middot - Character Traits

(Proverbs Mishlei 18:21)

Death and Life are in the hand of the tongue

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Example 1: Bereshit – Genesis 31 - Death of Rachel due to Jacob’s slip of the tongue

Laban chased Jacob and after he caught up with Jacob, Laban blamed Jacob for stealing Laban’s idolatry instruments/gods (Heb. Terafim). Jacob replied that whosoever stole them shall not live.
Jacob was so sure nobody from his household would do such a thing. Sadly, Jacob did not realise that his beloved wife Rachel stole the Terafim, even-though it was for best intention, but it backfired and as a result she died later giving birth to Benjamin.
לב עִם אֲשֶׁר תִּמְצָא אֶת-אֱלֹהֶיךָ, לֹא יִחְיֶה--נֶגֶד אַחֵינוּ הַכֶּר-לְךָ מָה עִמָּדִי, וְקַח-לָךְ; וְלֹא-יָדַע יַעֲקֹב, כִּי רָחֵל גְּנָבָתַם.32 With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, he shall not live; before our brethren discern thou what is thine with me, and take it to thee.'--For Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen them.

Example 2: Genesis 47 - Jacob loses 33 years from his life span

The sum total of the words of these two verses below = 33.
According to Bnei Tzion, quoting Da’at Zekenim, Jacob was destined to live 180 years but because he complained to Pharaoh, instead of saying ‘Barukh Hashem’ (blessed be Hashem) and thanking G-d. Accordingly, he was punished by Hashem who took away 33 years of his life. It seems very harsh but G-d is extremely strict with great righteous individuals like Jacob as He expect from them exceedingly high standards of conduct.


ח וַיֹּאמֶר פַּרְעֹה, אֶל-יַעֲקֹב: כַּמָּה, יְמֵי שְׁנֵי חַיֶּיךָ.8 And Pharaoh said unto Jacob: 'How many are the days of the years of thy life?'
ט וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב, אֶל-פַּרְעֹה, יְמֵי שְׁנֵי מְגוּרַי, שְׁלֹשִׁים וּמְאַת שָׁנָה: מְעַט וְרָעִים, הָיוּ יְמֵי שְׁנֵי חַיַּי, וְלֹא הִשִּׂיגוּ אֶת-יְמֵי שְׁנֵי חַיֵּי אֲבֹתַי, בִּימֵי מְגוּרֵיהֶם. 9 And Jacob said unto Pharaoh: 'The days of the years of my sojournings are a hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojournings.'

We have to be very careful what we say and may we all merit longevity in great health to greet the messiah, amen.
Rabbi Avraham (Abe) Abrahami
Rabbi Dr Abe Abrahami is a multi-discipline professional lecturer who travels the world. He teaches mystical Judaism, Torah and medicine, stress management, energy, finance, business ethics and much more. Author of several books and award winner.
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