When my daughter was 3, she taught me Talmud.
One morning I was making her waffles. When the toaster oven rang I said, “Oh, your waffles are ready.”
She said, “Why did you say ‘oy?’”
“I didn’t, I said ‘oh.’”
“You said ‘oy’” she insisted.
“OK” I conceded, I said “oy.”
“Aha!” she said, eyes gleaming with toddler triumph. “You misunderstood yourself.”
We assume that we know what we are saying. But the Talmud advises, “Let your ear hear what your mouth is saying.” Too often we say things without considering their implication, or grasping the way in which they will be heard. Sometimes, in short, we misunderstand ourselves.
My daughter rephrased the Talmudic insight, one on which a great deal of psychoanalysis is based. We do not always know what we are saying. We should pay closer attention.
But, just for the record, I said “oh.”
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow his teachings at www.facebook.com/Rabbi Wolpe.
Signup for our weekly email newsletter here.