Once Reb Simchah Bunim of Pesischitza sent his chassidim to visit an innkeeper in a distant village. “You’ll learn something very important from him,” R. Simchah Bunim promised.

When the chassidim reached the inn, their happy host prepared a feast for them. But they were slightly hesitant about partaking of the meal. They were very meticulous about the kashrus of the food they ate. Did the innkeeper keep such high standards?

The appetizing aroma of the food soon began to waft through the air, and the question became quite agonizing: Could they partake of the food?

With hushed whispers, they discussed the matter. The innkeeper appeared simple, how much could he have studied? Was it possible for him to know all the laws? He spoke naturally with his non-Jewish workers. Perhaps that implied that he fraternized with them at other times as well.

The innkeeper was not oblivious to the rustling undertones of their conversation. “Chassidim,” he told them. “You are very careful of what you put into your mouths, but perhaps you should exercise the same care regarding what comes out of your mouths.”

Parshas Emor

The name of this week’s Torah reading, Emor, means “speak,” highlighting the power of our words. Our Sages state: “Lashon hara (malicious gossip) kills three: the one who speaks, the one who listens, and the one who is being spoken about.” We can understand why the speaker and the listener suffer. They have committed a serious transgression. But why should the person spoken about be affected?

In resolution, the mystic sages of the Kabbalah explain that speaking about a person’s negative qualities provokes their expression. Although the person might not even be aware that he is being spoken about, the fact that his character flaws are being discussed fans the revelation of those qualities.

The converse is also true. Consistent mention of the good a person possesses — and within every person there are unfathomed reservoirs of good — will facilitate the expression of that good in the person’s conduct.

Looking to the Horizon

The above concepts apply with regard to all positive matters and, in particular, to the ultimate goal of our Divine service, the era of the Redemption. Constantly speaking about Mashiach and the Redemption, making it a reality in our own minds and in the minds of the people we encounter, will help it blossom into fulfillment in the world at large.

In addition to generating a process of spiritual causation like that described above, sincere talk about the Redemption can have a more tangible effect. For many, the Redemption is not a factor in their lives at all. Some may accept it as a spiritual belief, but even they do not look forward to it in the same way they look forward to an upcoming vacation; it just isn’t real. And therefore, they don’t talk about it.

When, by contrast, Mashiach and Redemption are driving forces in a person’s life, he will talk about it with others. The others will respond with interest, for we are all looking for a better world. And we all trust that G‑d can provide us with the material and spiritual blessings to make the world better. This is what we really want. So when someone talks about the Redemption with conviction, we will listen.