Rav Avigdor Miller on Your Powerful Mouth and Your Powerful Mind

People often tell me that I have to be careful not to speak about bad things that might happen because of אל תפתח פה לשטן (Berachos 19a). Can the Rav please explain that concept?

That was explained once here, and I’ll explain it again. This concept is based on the fundamental principle of the greatness of mankind. Man is so great, that his word, even his word, has an effect on the universe. Now, of course, that’s a concept that is foreign to our minds. But that’s what the תורה  teaches us. Man is special. ואשים את דברי בפיך. “I put My word into your mouth,” says Hashem. The גמרא  says that when a person studies the תורה, it’s like he is a שותף, he’s like a partner in the creation of heaven and earth. Now, this we don’t understand. A man is a partner in the creation of heavens and earth?! But actually, it’s like that. Your words are much more powerful than you imagine. And the greater the man is, the more dangerous are his words. הוי כשגגה היוצא מלפני השליט. A great man surely has to guard his words.

Now, when a person says something – especially if he’s a man that is beloved by Hashem – then Hashem will not negate his words entirely. And sometimes these words are dangerous words to say. And he’s going to be sorry that he said those words. And that’s why you should avoid saying things that entail harm for you or anybody else. Always speak of happy things. Don’t speak of dangerous possibilities, unless you add a prayer to Hashem. ה׳ ישמרנו. Or Hashem forbid. But don’t say, like a boy in Yeshiva said to his Rebbi. They were learning בבא קמא, and he says, “Rebbi, if an ox would kill you, how much would the owner have to pay?”

You have to beware of the way you express things. And therefore, we avoid dangerous expressions. Because הקדוש ברוך הוא  takes into consideration what men are saying. And if you’re more important, as we mentioned before, then certainly you should guard your words. 

This is one of the results of גדלות האדם. That is one of the fundamentals of the תורה – that man is very great. Even his thoughts are great. The thoughts of a person are very significant in the eyes of Hashem. So not only do we say אל תפתח פה לשטן, but we concern ourselves with עין הרע. Even when no words are said, if somebody is motivated by your actions to feel envious, then his feelings, his thoughts are very significant. Let’s say you display your wealth, you display your good fortune, and someone who doesn’t have it, sees that and feels envious. That pain in his heart makes an impression above. And הקדוש ברוך הוא might sometimes take action because of that pain.

And therefore, we should be careful, not only to not say bad words, but also to avoid ostentation. Don’t show off your happiness too much. Now, in the past, people always understood that. And when a woman who didn’t have children was visiting the house, so the mother of the home made sure to shoo all of the little children into the next room. Why should she pain this woman?! It’s a sensitivity, a kindness. And it’s also a wisdom. Because הקדוש ברוך הוא  sometimes might take action. That’s the greatness of mankind. If you understand the concept of עין הרע and also of אל תפתח פה לשטן, then you have begun to appreciate your importance and your capability for greatness.

                                                     TAPE # 430