Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me."
In our hearts, we know this is untrue. But do we really act as if we know how much damage our words can cause? When we speak about others, when we gossip about their lives, their character - whether they are public figures or intimate friends - can't our words cause irreversible damage? When we speak to our children, don't our words resonate throughout their lives, determining how well they will think of themselves and how well they will speak to others? When we express excessive anger at our partners, don't we block the path toward love? But how can we know when we have crossed the line?
The wisdom to know how to choose our words so that they will build bridges, rather than erect barriers, to understanding has been sought by writers, philosophers, and religious leaders throughout history, from the biblical sages to modern thinkers. The anonymous author of a medieval text spends pages warning of the great evils routinely committed in speech: "With the tongue one can commit numerous great and mighty transgressions, but," he adds, "with the tongue one can also perform limitless acts of virtue."
In Words That Hurt, Words That Heal,
Joseph Telushkin brings to bear his extraordinary knowledge of these texts, along with his special gift for rendering their inherent good sense and insight into an accessible, systematic, and surprising lesson on how our words often cross the boundary from communication into destruction.
Paperback, 240 pp.
Pub. Date: September 1998