"And God said..."

The Power of Words

By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © May 22, 1997 (last updated June 20, 2017)

Recorded Live on Facebook

In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heaven and the earth ...
And God [Elohim] said, Let there be light; and there was light" (Genesis.1:1,3).

In modern society the words we speak typically count for very little. Promises are made and quickly broken with little or no thought. We speak a lot and yet we say very little of any real consequence. According to the Tanach such is dangerous folly. It is taught that the words we articulate have a power and an existence unto themselves. As the Likutei Amarim explains:
...Likewise with regard to the commandment of Torah study and the recital of Shema (note 1 ) and prayer, and similar precepts, although they do not involve physical action in the strict sense... Nevertheless, it has been established that the meditation cannot take the place of speech, and that a person does not fulfill the commandment until [the words] have been uttered with the lips. And it has been established that the articulation by the lips is deemed as "action"... Hence, the more strength one puts into speech, the more of the vital soul's energy is introduced and invested into those words... Further more, the vital soul's energy, which is clothed in the letters of speech in Torah study or prayer... derives it's entire growth and vitality from the blood, which is of the kelipat nogah itself, namely, all the foods and drinks which the person has eaten.
    --Likutei Amarim-Tanya, chapter 11 -- KEHOT Publication Society, Brooklyn, N.Y. 1981
The "kelipat nogah" refers to the serpent rod of Moses (note 2). It "rushes with 370 leaps" and directs the Lord's springs (or emanations) that flow Interjacent of the holy and the profane throughout the diminution of Light passing downwards from Ain Soph (note 3) through the ten sephiroth or vessels of the four worlds.

In other words, according to certain mystical realities our world of Asiah resides below Atziloth, Briah and Yetzirah, yet is higher than the Qliphoth (the shells and the seven hells) which are ruled by Samael and his wife Isheth Zenunim. This realm is the exact opposite of Asiah, although technically it is a portion of it (note 4). Furthermore, the Nogah are controlled by Methraton, the "ruler of Moses," who has the same Gamatrial (note 5) identification as SHDI, Who is, of course, El Shaddai or El Gibor i.e. the Mighty God Himself. There is much to contemplate in this realization!

In simpler terms, the Shaar Harichud explains that all attributes, all expressions of Divine emanation, require letters [or numbers] for their manifestation (from God). When the Holy One elects to project attributes into the lower worlds, this revelation and the "flow" by which it is accomplished, when combined, is known or perceived as an 'utterance' of combined letters which is, again, the intermediary between the Holy One, blessed be He, and the creation (note 6).

It is therefore words that connect us to HaShem and ultimate Reality. How important are our words!

This is implied in verses such as, "Let there be light" where God spoke and the thing entered objective existence. The sages tell us that God's Holy language is Hebrew. The Hebrew letters the Holy One combines and pronounces are letter combinations that we are capable of speaking. Of course His utterances are far superior to our own, nonetheless as His children we share in the divine nature and may partake of this awesome power through emuna (or active faith as taught by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov in the Likutei Moharan and elsewhere). The principle is the same, "... [the Hebrew letters are] are a phenomenon which indicates the bringing into existence of the light [in this case] from nothing." The forms the emanations manifest, depends upon the combination of the letters employed (note 7).

"... Thus it follows that all life-forces and powers that issue from His holy attributes into the lower worlds, to create them ex nihilo [from nothing] and to give them life and to sustain them, are given the appellation 'Holy Letters,' which are the flow of the Life force from His Will... to bring worlds into being and to give them life" (note 8).

We see therefore that from words -- which are combinations of letters -- and especially 'by the power of His Name,' that "From the non-existent He made Something" (note 9). Likewise, the words we speak convey power and establish reality. We find references to the power of human speech in the case of Esau and Jacob. Jacob, as is widely known, stole his brother's birthright through deception. Volumes have been written on this, but for the present, suffice it to say that father Isaac, even after understanding the deception that had taken place, was unable to cancel his unintentional bestowal of blessing upon Jacob or to transfer (note 10) it to Esau. Thus is evidenced the creative capacity of words, both human and Divine. Our words impart either creative or destructive power. When we speak a word of encouragement we are literally blessing the recipient. When we utter negativity we manifest it as well. If it is truly our will to enhance the good in this world and to dissipate the negative as HaShem desires of us, then it is within our power to bring this about even now and to call forth the Messiah! For this reason, in part, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches us:

Always remember: happiness is not a side matter in your spiritual journey - it is essential.

May HaShem smile upon us all and may we speak only words befitting the Children of HaShem!

Notes for this study