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Thursday, 4 June 2015

Say no to negative energy

Daf Yomi Nedarim 11


After forty years in the desert, the Israelites were finally ready to enter the Promised Land.  They requested free passage via Transjordan to enter Canaan, but instead of allowing them to pass through peacefully, the countries attacked them.  But with Hashem’s help, the Jewish people were victorious in the battle, and now had the additional dominion over the East Bank of the Jordan River.  The tribes of Reuven and Gad approached Moses requesting to stay in Transjordan.

After debating the matter, he realized that they were not seeking to avoid joining their brethren in the conquering of the land.  Moses then stipulated, “If you indeed arm yourselves before G-d for the battle and every armed man among you will cross the Jordan before G-d until He drives out His enemies before Him . . . this land shall be a heritage for you before G-d.  But if you do not do so, behold, you will have sinned to G-d; know that your sin will encounter you.”

Rabbi Meir teaches: Any stipulation that is not like the stipulation concerning the Children of Gad and Reuven is not a binding agreement.   In other words, for a condition to be binding, one must state both the positive condition and the negative consequences of failing to fulfill the condition.
Rabbi Yehuda disagrees and contends that one may derive the negative implication from simply stating the positive.

We need to be as positive in our interactions as possible.  It’s easy to be negative, cynical, pessimistic, critical.  But, most of the time, it’s not constructive; and besides, nobody wants to be around a naysayer.

The key to getting your message across is simply: state the positive and let the other person derive the negative implication.  Most of the time they’ll understand.  But you avoid the embarrassment and hurt if you can figure out how to say it using positive language.

Let’s say you get annoyed when you come home from work and the beds aren’t made.  You could criticize your spouse for not making the beds every day.  Or, you could wait for the day they do make the beds and say, ‘Thank you so much, my dear, it makes my day when I come home to a neat and tidy house.’

Or maybe your spouse doesn’t spend enough time with the kids.  You could criticize and chastise them.  Or you could wait for a nice Sunday outing and say, ‘This has been one of the best days I’ve had in such a long time.  It’s wonderful when we spend quality family time together!’


The main thing is to always make positive statements.  If you find yourself about to say something negative, stop yourself and think about how you might be able to reframe it.  Even if you think your tone may come across as cynical, seal your lips.  Whether you’re talking to your spouse, to your children, to your siblings, colleagues or friends, may you merit always being the most positive energy in the room!