CHASSIDISHE STORY ON THE PARSHA
Parshas Ki Seitzei
‘מוצא שפתיך תשמר ועשית וגוIn this week's parsha is says מוצא שפתיך תשמר ועשית וגו' (כי תצא כג: כד). "You shall observe and carry out what emerges from your lips.”
This verse refers to a statement that’s a neder (vow); its message also applies to speech in general. A Jew must weigh his words and honor them.
It was a snowy winter afternoon, and young Feige Kagan, the youngest child of the Chofetz Chaim (who later married Rav Mendel Zaks, an outstanding Torah personality), had already put on her coat and was headed for the door to visit a friend. However, her father’s voice stopped her.
“Feige,” the Chofetz Chaim said, “please don’t leave yet; I need your help. I have three sets of Mishnah Berurah that need checking for errors.”
Feige’s heart sank. Three sets? She knew what such “checks” involved. Her father would never sell a Sefer without first examining each of the volume’s pages for possible misprints, missing pages, or other mistakes that might have crept in during the publishing process. It would be dishonest to sell a Sefer at the regular price when it contained even a single error.
Each set of Mishnah Berurah contains six volumes. Three sets are a total of eighteen volumes. It would take all afternoon, Feige told herself.
“Tatte (Father),” she said, “I was about to leave for a friend’s house. But I will be sure to check the Seforim later!”
“Feige,” the Chofetz Chaim replied, “I need these Seforim checked now.”
“Tatte,” the young girl responded, with desperation, “I want to visit my friend now. Tonight I’ll even check thirteen sets of Mishnah Berurah!”
The Chofetz Chaim did not respond, and his daughter took this to mean that he agreed to let her leave. So she headed out into the snow and returned home after dark.
A surprise greeted her upon returning home. There, on the table, were thirteen sets of Mishnah Berurah neatly piled up next to one another.
“Tatte,” she asked hesitatingly, “what’s this?”
“Oh,” said the Chofetz Chaim matter-of-factly, “these are the thirteen sets you promised to check when you returned home.”
“But Tatte,” she protested, “I didn’t mean it! People say lots of things; they don’t mean it.”
The Chofetz Chaim responded gently but firmly. Feige, a person is responsible for every word. If someone doesn’t mean something, he shouldn’t say it. You said you would check thirteen sets of Mishnah Berurah, and you must honor your word.
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