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The Language of the Heart

In the modern day world there are all kinds of receptors.   The AM/FM radio is a receptor that picks up a certain range of frequencies.  A short-wave radio accepts a different range of frequencies.  The same thing is true about WiFi.  A dog is also a receptor of yet a different range of frequency.  Today, I’d like to talk about perhaps the most important receptor and that’s the human heart.  The heart is an extremely sensitive receptor and picks up a very specific type of frequency.  We are used to the clichés such as ‘romancing the heart,’ tugging at someone’s ‘heart strings,’ and the popular phrase, let’s have a ‘heart-to-heart talk.’  These popular sayings touch upon the type of frequencies that the human heart is receptive to.  There really is such a thing as the ‘language of the heart.’  So if you want to speak to someone’s heart, here are a few rules.

The Number One rule is, “Devorim hayotzin min haleiv, nichnosin l’leiv – Matters that come from the heart penetrate one’s fellow’s heart.”  This is the meaning of being ‘heartfelt.’  If the person you are speaking to detects that you are sincere, then you will have a better chance to impress yourself on his or her heart.  To ratchet-up a level, if you’re passionate about what you’re speaking, then you have even a better chance of being effective.  This is why we say every day in Krias shema, “V’hoyu hadevorim ha’ela, asher Anochi mitzav’cha hayom al levovecha, vishinantom livonecha – The words that I instructed you today, let it be be placed upon your heart and teach them to your children.”  The juxtaposition is clear; if you want to successfully inculcate something into your children’s hearts, they must first be entrenched in your own heart.

Here’s Rule Number Two.  “Divrei emes nikorim – Words of truth are recognizable.”  The heart shuns what it detects as falsehood.  It is receptive to the truth.  This is why the Gemora says, “Meihespedo shel adom nikar im ben olam haba hu – From one’s eulogy, you can discern if he’s a member of the afterlife.”  As first glance this is puzzling.  Any speaker can get up and say whatever he wants.  How can you tell conclusively that a deceased is righteous?  Perhaps the orator is just spinning false tales.  The answer is, Words of truth are recognizable.  If the audience is moved by the words of eulogy and they reach into everyone’s heart, it’s a sign that they are words of truth.

Rule Number Three.  If you want someone’s heart to be receptive to what you are saying, don’t talk to them when they are angry.  We extrapolate this from Hashem Himself.  After the sin of the golden calf, Hashem instructed Moshe Rabbeinu, “Chavei k’m’at regah ad yavor zam – Hide about a moment until My wrath passes.”  The Gemora deduces from this that one should not try to appease someone when they are angry.  As Rabbi Irving Bunim, Zt”l, Zy”a, put it, ‘When a person is angry, their brain is in park!’  And, so is the heart.  Thus, it is as if the radio receptors are shut off when a person is angry.  Therefore, in the middle of a marital dispute – when tempers are flaring – don’t try to use logic.  Wait it out.  

And, here’s Rule Number Four.  Don’t try to rebuke, chastise, or give advice when you are angry.  The sefer Bayis HaYehudi derives this lesson from a very interesting source.  When Miriam spoke to her brother Aharon about Moshe Rabbeinu’s separating from his wife Tzipora (because he needed to be in a state of perpetual readiness for Hashem’s prophecy), Hashem chastised Miriam and Aharon for comparing their level of prophecy to Moshe’s level of prophecy.   Only after He told them this, does it say that the wrath of Hashem was kindled.  Why doesn’t it say right away that Hashem was angry about their Lashon Hara?  The answer is that Hashem made sure that His rebuke preceded His anger, for chastisement when one is angry is utterly ineffective.  

This is very important to remember especially when raising children, for most of the time we rebuke our children when we’re angry.  If the anger passes, we become too busy to deal with the matter.  Usually, our vexation is the only thing that gets us to deal with the matter at all.  But, if we want to practice successful parenting, we have to wait until we calm down before offering our constructive criticism.  Only then will the other heart be receptive to what we have to say.

Finally, Rule Number Five.  “Mahne rach meishiv cheima – A soft answer retards anger.”  The heart is extremely receptive to soft, soothing words.  It shuts down when confronted with harsh and rough utterances.  May it be the will of Hashem that we successfully touch the hearts of our loved ones and in that merit may we be blessed with long live, good health, and everything wonderful. 

Please learn and daven for the refuah sheleima of Miriam Liba bas Devorah, b’soch shaar cholei Yisroel.