Think Good, and It'll Be Good!




Insight into: Parsha Matot 

It's Yom Kippur eve, and the synagogue is packed with tallit-clad worshippers ready for Kol Nidre. All rise as the ark is opened and the Torah scrolls are removed. The room is charged with emotion, and the cantor begins the moving traditional tune, which dates back thousands of years. "Kol Nidre …"

What is Kol Nidre? And what is it about the Kol Nidre service, that even Jews who never step foot into synagogues all year, make every effort to be present on Yom Kippur eve? 

Kol Nidre is a prayer written in Aramaic which literally means "All the vows." It's a declaration that nullifies all future vows and, according to some opinions, also retroactively repeals all the vows which one might have made during the course of the previous year. 

The root of the Kol Nidre prayer is found in the parsha of this week, Parsha Matot. In Numbers, 30:2, Moses teaches a commandment of G‑d, "When a person makes a vow to G‑d or takes an oath … he may not violate his word, and he must act in accordance with whatever he uttered" 

The Torah places a strong emphasis on promises; therefore, the Jewish people found it necessary to institute a special prayer to nullify in advance all vows that we may end up not being able to keep. 

Why does the Torah place such great emphasis on the spoken word? Kabbalah tells us that speech is a very important component of our lives. The Torah points out that man is created in the image of G‑d, referring (among other concepts) to the power of speech. Just as G‑d created the world through speech, "Let there be light," so, too, our words, although we don't see them spoken, create a certain level of reality. 

Based on this notion, Chasidic tradition emphasizes that a person should be extra careful not to utter negative predictions ("He has only six months to live," etc.). On the contrary, they should make special effort to predict positive outcomes, as in, "He'll certainly recover from this illness" or "This business will be successful." These positive words often carry the power to make them come true. 

This idea goes one step further. Not only do words have power, even thoughts can have long lasting effects. 

There was once a Chasid who came crying to the third Chabad Rebbe, begging for a blessing for a very sick family member. The Rebbe's response was, "Tracht gut, vet zayn gut! n Think good, and it'll be good!" In other words, your positive thoughts can actually bring about positive outcomes. 

Speaking positively is a matter of carefully choosing the words that you say, but thinking positive is a real challenge, because it's human nature to worry. If you are able to overcome this urge, you might enjoy great positive outcomes. 

As you go about your day, it's inevitable that bad news will come your way. Remember this simple Chasidic remedy, "Think good, and it'll be good!"