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Issue 51 | Parshat Emor | How to Speak

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HOW TO SPEAK
The Secret to Influencing Others

Who has not been tempted to criticize and chastise someone who we feel is behaving inappropriately? Who of us is not guilty of speaking harshly even to a loved one?

But have your strong words ever impacted someone? Have they inspired and motivated anyone to grow?

In the wake of the Osama bin Laden’s death, we are reminded of the long history of religious violence, aggression perpetrated in the name of faith, which has in our time come to the fore in the shape of Muslim fundamentalism. One of the terribly mystifying things about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and religion-based terrorism in general – which is glaringly missing from the discourse presently consuming the pages of our newspapers, screens and websites – is their modus operandi: The need to use aggressive rhetoric and violence to achieve their religious goals.

In stark contrast, this week’s Torah portion teaches us an alternative – the original – modus operandi on how to influence others. This method – an approach driven by love and sensitivity – was epitomized by the Baal Shem Tov, who adamantly challenged the preachers in his time who would harshly rebuke their listeners.

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