Vayakhel-Pekudei: Lessons from a Stroke: When Every Word Counts



If you only had one thousand words to utter during your entire lifetime, what would they be?

A very long time ago one man pioneered and taught us the importance of every single word. And he called himself “a man of no words.” Yet, he taught us the critical need for accountability for every word, for every penny, for every detail.

We read about this man and his momentous contribution – which would go on to change history – in this week’s Torah portion, as we conclude the Book of Exodus.

This vital lesson of accountability is relevant today more than ever. With corruption, greed and lies undermining our trust in our leaders and infrastructures, financial accountability has never been a more precious commodity.

And the same is true for other forms of accountability as well. Especially when it comes to words. In our information age – where we have a steady and incessant stream of data, with trillions upon trillions of letters beaming, texting, emailing, uploading and downloading instantaneously from one end of the globe to the other, with knowledge accessible anytime, anywhere by anyone – we can easily lose sight and forget the value of a single word, of a mere utterance.

And for Chabad Chassidim, this message carries special weight this week, on the 27th of Adar, when we sadly remember how on this fateful day 25 years ago, the Rebbe suffered a stroke which left him speechless (at least to our callous ears) … But we also are reminded of the Rebbe’s immortal words just a few weeks before the stroke, when he spoke on this very topic and made us keenly aware of the eternal power of the words uttered by Moses, “the man of no words.”

How a stroke, of all things, can teach us the power of measuring every word! Today, we all carry the responsibility to be the mouthpiece of the Rebbe, of Torah, wherever we go and to whomever we meet.


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