Respecting our Words - Ki Teitze
'מוצא שפתיך תשמור ועשית כאשר נדרת לה
In the middle of our parasha we are, once again, told about the importance and even the danger of fulfilling our oaths. The Torah warns us that if we have sworn or accepted an obligation we should, with all means possible, implement it. In the Gemara, Chazal even say that it is better not to commit by swearing than never swearing- even if you did manage to fulfil your oath every single time. This policy can be understood as precocious advice the Torah is giving us. Don’t risk yourself by trying or seeking after new adventures and new ways of spiritual life.
But this policy can be also devastating. Instead of encouraging people to try to achieve new goals and expand their own standards, the Torah frightens us from the possibility of not succeeding. It also seems like counterintuitive to the idea of Teshuva. The only reason to be optimistic and hopeful that this time it can work, is based on being a little risky. Letting myself try new ways and goals is literally starting the path of Teshuva.
Knowing that these two concepts aren’t supposed to contradict each other it seems that we should look carefully at the pasuk. When teaching us that 'מוצא שפתיך תשמור' the Torah isn’t only teaching us to be careful with our mouth and words. The Torah is teaching us the hidden unique potential that lies in our ability to speak.
Like ואביו שמר את הדבר in the story of Yosef and his brothers, the meaning of שמר isn’t only “guarding” or “keeping”, לשמור also means “to anticipate”. In the story of Yosef, it meant that Yaakov Avinu waited to see how Yosef’s dream would unfold, and here the meaning is that we should treat our ability to speak with respect and caution.
Respecting our words doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t talk our communicate. Respecting it means talking while realizing the importance of our words.
Rav Chaim of Volozhin, in his book Nefesh Hachaim, teaches us that the main importance of our ability to speak, is the ability to express ourselves and share our deep and hidden thoughts. A man can share his most spiritual hopes and dreams simply by telling it to another person. With no need to actually do anything we can build and create. Simply by talking. Yes, we haven’t achieved anything yet, but by saying it, we have brought the idea out into the world. In this simple way, We can start to improve the world simply by talking and wishing for it. That is the main importance of praying, to express our wishes and desires.
The main significance of us as Humans is the ability to speak, and that is why we are supposed to monitor our words. By respecting our words we become like הקב"ה who created the world simply by speaking - בעשרה מאמרות נברא העולם.