The word Abracadabra has been interpreted as originating in several languages. In two of them, however (Aramaic and Hebrew) the word has Jewish connotations.

The Aramaic explanation claims the word comes from "Abra Kadabra" (I create like the Word); the Hebrew explanation makes it come from "Abra Kadabra" as well, but in this case meaning "I create with my words" or "I create as I speak". In both cases, there is a connection between the act of creation and the spoken word. While this can be explained in ancient times as a magicak incantation, maybe even conjuring the power of God, in modern times we can read it differently.

We all create worlds with our speech. Every time we speak, every day. Our words create situations, ideas, perceptions. We also often judge people by the way they talk. Should this not be a warning? Should we not heed the words of Khalil Gibran - "When the words leave your mouth, they are not your words anymore"?

Unlike God, we do not have control over the worlds we create. An insult, a raised word, a poor choice of words, can all result in a relationship broken or an opportunity missed. But we are Human, and we forget the warning.

Rabbi Meir Israel Kagan, popularly known as the Chofetz Chayim, knew this. He focused on the consequences of Lashon HaRah. Lashon HaRah is not just "gossiping" as it is commonly translated. Lashon HaRah means to talk about others even as we describe what they do; it is to equate an observed behavior with the person itself. And Lashon HaRah has consequences. We hurt people not only with our actions, but also with our words. We can create worlds of Good or worlds of Hurt. Every time we open our mouth we need to be aware not only of what we are saying, but also how others will perceive it - because as Gibran said, words have a life of their own.

But our tradition recognizes that we are fallible, that we are Human. That is why we are given clear ways to make ammends - and why in Yom Kippur we are expected to ask forgiveness from God for the transgression against Him, but ask forgiveness from people for our transgressions against them. Asking forgiveness does not correct what we did, but it is a first step.

But still, we are Human - how many times we ignore the request for forgiveness when somebody say "I'm sorry"? Our tradition provides us with help here as well. Our sages said that if a person asks forgiveness from another three times and receives no forgiveness, that person is forgiven anyway and the burden lies with the one denying forgiveness.

But Jewish tradition, being Jewish, is of course more complicated than that. Weare suposed to ask forgiveness not only of those our actions or words affected directly, but also of those indirectly affected. And even after we have done that, our redemption for our wrong actions or words is not complete. We are suposed to prove we have learned from the experience by changing behavior and not repeating the mistake.

The whole process of forgiveness is not complete until we have learned and put that learning into action.

We do create worlds with our words, and we have no control over them - so let's make them good ones!



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