Contact Us

The Two-Way Mouth

The Two-Way Mouth


One day, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov instructed several of his disciples to embark on a journey. The Baal Shem Tov did not tell them where to go, nor did they ask; they allowed divine providence to direct their wagon where it may, confident that the destination and purpose of their trip would be revealed in due time.

After traveling for several hours, they stopped at a wayside inn to eat and rest. Now the Baal Shem Tov’s disciples were pious Jews who insisted on the highest standards of kashrut; when they learned that their host planned to serve them meat in their meal, they asked to see the shochet1 of the house, interrogated him as to his knowledge and piety and examined his knife for any possible blemishes. Their discussion of the kashrut standard of the food continued throughout the meal, as they inquired after the source of every ingredient in each dish set before them.

As they spoke and ate, a voice emerged from behind the oven, where an old beggar was resting amidst his bundles. “Dear Jews,” it called out, “are you as careful with what comes out of your mouth as you are with what enters into it?”

The party of chassidim concluded their meal in silence, climbed onto their wagon and turned it back toward Mezhibuzh. They now understood the purpose for which their master had dispatched them on their journey that morning.

“Ritual slaughterer,” certified to slaughter animals in accordance with the kosher dietary laws.
Yanki Tauber served as editor of
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Anonymous Brooklyn, NY March 24, 2011

Attn: Devorah Aronson I have been to quite a few synagogues and have never heard or at least not noticed that often my fellow Jews are not careful with what comes out of their mouths.

I have in fact experienced quite the opposite.

I guess you need to look at your fellow Jew with your other eye. The good eye. Reply

Devorah Aronson Los Angeles, CA February 2, 2011

The Two Way Mouth. I wish that the message from the old beggar could be posted in every synagogue, taught in every jewish school and to truly be a message to live by. It is very unfortunate that often the most seemingly observant jew is not at all careful about what comes out of his/her mouth.

I have heard far to many stories of despair and embarassement from persons being spoken to harshly in synagogues and places of worship. This is very unfortunate as many such persons have not been to a synagogue in a very long while and some times never. To experience such treatment at a place where they are expecting the best from anothers mouth is very upsetting and sometimes unfortunately the last chance that person has to make a good impression on an impressionable person. Please just remember to be kind to everyone. We do not know what Mitzvah contains the highest reward and we should put our greatest effort into them ALL. Reply

Stephanie Japan September 30, 2008

I really like this story. Thnx! Reply

Learn about the life and teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, the 18th century mystic who permanently changed the Jewish landscape.
Related Topics
This page in other languages