Parshat Emor: Well Said

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08 May 2008
Arts & Media

Talk is cheap.

Until you have something worthwhile to say –

Then it’s priceless.


Silence is golden.

Unless it’s done while blood is being spilled –

Then it’s unspeakable.


It’s easy to speak, even to speak profoundly.

(There is a fine line between lost & profound.)

To pontificate takes merely a pontiff –

And that’s – a thousand separations – a false “priest” altogether.

To wax-poetic takes barely a waxed-out poet –

And that’s not very impressive at all

(If a bit self-deprecating).


Yes, the spoken word can flow smoother and glossier

Than a self-proclaimed guru’s shampooed-and-conditioned

Tresses (dare I say he’s got too much braid on his plait?)


(It isn’t called a speakeasy because it’s hard)


What isn’t easy is saying what has to be said,

Saying Truth – and not the Pravda kind of truth either:

We mean here the clean, undiluted Truth of the Divine.


What isn’t easy is saying something pure and innocent.


Say to the Kohanim

The sons of Aharon

And tell them…


It’s hard to tell what has to be said.

(Just as it’s hard to say what has to be told)


But we can listen and learn,

For is the Torah not a teacher

And we, blessedly, its student?


Say and tell – Redundant? Never!

‘Tis a lesson:

Let us listen to the teacher so

That hopefully we may learn

(And, perhaps, one day even teach).


(Some say:

Show & Tell


Kiss and tell

Not we:)


Say and tell:

Learn that the elders, the wise,

Shall protect the young, the innocent.


Say and tell:

Say to them so they may tell others.

Say to the elders so they may tell the youths.


And not only so the innocent will know what is wise

But also so that the wise will know what is innocent.


One can make a fine speech about something coarse

And one can make a coarse speech about something fine –

But not to children, innocents:

They’ll see right through it

Like x-ray sees right through

Pampered spa skin.


One does not make speeches to purity.

One merely tells it how it is –

Well, very well


Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.