This article on the portion of the week was originally published in 2016.
This week we enter into a 21 day period the kabbalists call Ben HaMetzarim, which is often considered to be three of the most “negative” weeks of the year. I put the word “negative” in quotes for a reason, because Rav Berg would often teach that this time has the potential to be one of the most positive. This is the duality of the material world that is connected to the Tree of Knowledge Good and Evil. Even the word “evil” spelled backwards becomes the word “live,” To the degree that there is darkness, we are given an opportunity to reveal the same degree of Light.
"Let us use our words to fill the world with Light."
So the question becomes, how can we do that? What can we do, this coming 7 days in particular, to begin the process of making these weeks the most positive of our year instead of the most negative as they are inclined to be?
For the answers, we look to the Zohar. The portion of this week, Matot, concerns itself mostly with the idea of vows and the power of speech. The kabbalists teach that God granted all of us the power to create angels with our words. For every negative word that we say, an angel is created whose purpose is to initiate darkness. With every positive word we say, an angel is created to radiate Light.
Of course, it is not the words themselves, as all words have the potential to be either negative or positive, what matters is how and why we use them -- to build, or destroy. The Rav would always say it takes one moment to destroy what it takes years to build. We might use our words to gossip about a longtime friend, to admonish someone harshly, or even use our words to put ourselves down or beat ourselves up (“I’m so stupid, why did I do that?”). On the other hand, we can use our words to brighten someone’s day, or bare witness to someone’s pain, with a simple “I understand,” or simply tell someone that they matter.
In this way, we can begin to see that for the angels, every word is a vow as angels have no free will of their own, and so they are avowed to carry forth the energy with which our words are spoken.
In this, the first week of Ben HaMetzarim, let us use our words to fill the world with Light. Over the course of the next 7 days, let us speak words of kindness to others and to ourselves. Let us utter words that build -- words of wisdom, peace, and love -- and by doing so fill the world with positive angels that can elevate us on their wings. I invite you to share this possibility with others so that we may multiply our efforts by thousands and thousands, through which we can alter the energy that exists in the world today, and perhaps by the end of Ben HaMetzarim, the world will look that much better because of it.
This week, let words that build be your true North.