My name, Matana מתנה, was taken from this week’s Torah portion.

“וממדבר מתנה וממתנה נחליאל ”

Growing up, my mother would often quote, “Words have power – be careful how you use them. Words make things a reality.” I believed it somewhat, yet did not totally internalize the magnitude of the meaning.

A few days ago I was speaking with Fally Klein, a facilitator for Breathwork, and it got me thinking about breath and where it all began. In the beginning, when G-d created man, he breathed a breath of life into his nostrils. This imparted a spark of G-d’s own being into man. What differentiated man from the animals that had been placed on Earth before him? The power of speech. The cognitive power of forming words and imparting thoughts. My mother’s words rose to my consciousness and I was struck by an idea.

Thoughts have power, but words more so. Words have an incredible energy especially prayer. There are many sources in the Bible which point to this phenomena.

To start of, God created the world with 10 Utterances.

The story of Elijah on Mount Carmel when he prayed that a fire should come down and consume his sacrifice. Joshua prayed that the sun should not set in Givon. Chizkiyahu the king, who was on his deathbed and prayed that G-d should reverse his death sentence. When the Jewish nation was in the desert and wanted food, Moses prayed and the manna came from heaven. They complained about the manna and Moses prayed and they were inundated with fowl. Prayer proved itself again and again. When Miriam, the sister of Moses, died, the wellspring which accompanied them in the desert no longer gave forth water. The Jewish people cried and Moses prayed. G-d instructed Moses to speak to the rock and it would flow with water. G-d wished to teach the Jews the power of prayer, of words.

But, instead of speaking to the rock as instructed, Moses instead struck the rock and this all-powerful lesson was lost. As a result, G-d decreed that Moses would not enter the Holy Land. After leading the Jews out of Egypt and shepherding them for forty years in the desert, Moses would not be able to enter the land he so much wanted to see. He begged with G-d, he pleaded, he prayed time after time. Our commentaries teach that he prayed 515 times until G-d ordered him to stop. If Moses would pray one more prayer it would have in fact caused the inevitable reversal of the decree. G-d in His infinite wisdom knew that this was not for the benefit of his people, so he demanded of Moses to cease and desist from using the powerful force of prayer.

Another interesting point of this episode is that Moses did not begin to pray immediately upon hearing the decree. Why? A commentary states that Moses, who had sacrificed and stood up for the Jewish nation manifold times and achieved forgiveness for them, waited for this very nation to stand up and pray on his behalf now that a decree had been issued against him. When Moses saw that they did not take the initiative, he himself, once again, recruited this very powerful instrument.

A BIG lightbulb went off in my mind and heart this time, thinking of the story and a big shift of understanding came to me.

This is MY BIRTHDAY GIFT TO THE WORLD!

G-d had bid Moses to teach my people the hidden POWER of words, “speak to the rock and it will give forth water“.

Moses eschewed this directive and hit the rock. When Moses did pray to G-d to change the decree, G-d tells him, “Moses, don’t come to me asking for forgiveness with the very same power you spurned.”

When I was young I was extremely shy. I kept my words to myself. Growing up surrounded by extremely intelligent people, I did not think they would understand or care about my words. When I turned 19, I found my voice. But when used, it had an angry tinge to it. I was not using it properly. After my confrontation with mental illness, my voice was once again quieted. During this period I learned that there is a power in silence, but when using words, be respectful of them and use them properly.

Words should build, support, encourage; never destroy, damage or hurt. In Proverbs it states, “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” Create the good world you would want to live in through prayer, and kind words.

People who know me, know that I an advocate of gratitude. On my birthday, I ask everyone to use their words to create positivity and express gratitude. Thank the Creator, your loved ones, your mentor and leaders.

I’m blessed to have traveled a great deal, even before I married. When asked where I am going next, I answer, “Wherever G-d leads me.” Yes, I make plans, but with the knowledge that G-d may not sanction them and he may lead me elsewhere. There is a comfort in knowing that there is the Ultimate Planner who knows what is really best for me, just as in this week’s Parasha talking about the Jewish nations traveling, following God’s direction of when are where to go.

When people questioned where we will go next, I always respond, “God is my Best GPS, I’ll see where God takes us”

Until now, I never connected my personal relationship with this aspect.

“וממדבר מתנה, ממתנה נחליאל… ”

( פרשת חקת, פרק כא’ פסוק יח)

I wish and bless you all on my birthday, that you should have clarity in where you’re going, find contentment, not anguish, and if there is anguish – let there be growth in its wake, peace in your journey, much joy, success, inner and physical health, much growth, good and healthy relationships, and abundance. And pay it forward when you are blessed, because it’s really a gift.

-Matana


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