If you don’t have something nice to say

Shalom aleichem!

Last week, Chabad hosted the 9th Annual Pink Shabbat. The event took place on the Queens College campus on Friday night. It was a wonderful evening put together by the Chabad Student Board. We were also fortunate to have QC alumni Avi & Aliza Sherman ’95 join us. Aliza shared her story of battling breast cancer, and Avi spoke about how it impacted him and their family. Thank you for joining us, Aliza & Avi!

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I would like to focus on the beginning of this week’s Torah portion. More specifically, the first words of Rashi’s commentary.

The portion (Genesis 6:9) begins: “The following are the descendants of Noah, Noah was a righteous man; He was perfectly righteous in his generation. Noah walked with G-d.”

Why does the Torah tell us here that Noah was a tzaddik (a righteous man)?

Rashi explains: “Since the Torah mentions him, it tells his praise.”

One second — just because the Torah mentions someone, it needs to recount their praise? Why?

Chassidic teachings explain that speech is an act of revelation, since it reveals the thoughts that were (previously) hidden. In other words, the concept of speech is that it brings something dormant to the surface.

If we speak negatively about another person, this activates those negative qualities within them. If, on the other hand, we speak positively about another person, then this will bring those dormant positive qualities to the surface.

Perhaps we can update the saying, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it!” to “Say something nice!”

Thus, by telling us that Noah was a tzaddik, the Torah is actually giving us a salient message about how important it is to think positive thoughts — and even more so, to say positive things — about other people.

Shabbat Shalom!