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Words That Hurt, Words That Heal: How to Choose Words Wisely and Well Paperback

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Words That Hurt, Words That Heal: How to Choose Words Wisely and Well + The Book of Jewish Values: A Day-by-Day Guide to Ethical Living + Jewish Wisdom:  Ethical, Spiritual, and Historical Lessons from the Great Works and Thinkers
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 19, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688163505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688163501
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #315,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Contrary to the nursery rhyme, words can hurt as much as sticks and stones. In this wise book, Rabbi Telushkin (Jewish Wisdom) draws on Jewish teachings, primarily the Talmud, and traditional Jewish stories to explore how our words can harm others and how we can approach the act of speaking in a more ethical, even sacred, manner. Acting on the principle that self-awareness is the initial step toward transformation, Telushkin first brings gossip, lying and angry words into the light, and then prescribes possible remedies for these so often unconscious habits of expression. Wit informs his text, as does a courageous intelligence-for instance, in his defending, against recent conventional and media wisdom, the right of public figures "to keep their private lives private." Telushkin concludes with a proposal for a national "Speak No Evil Day," which, if acted upon, he says, can offer "a taste of heaven on earth." Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

For religious communities, the power of human language to inspire, educate, and unite individuals has a long, valued tradition. Rabbi Telushkin (Jewish Wisdom, LJ 9/1/94) suggests that we need look no further than the Book of Genesis in order to comprehend the true power of our spoken language. Conversely, and more to Telushkin's purpose here, the ways in which we use language in our everyday lives is often harmful and destructive. He argues that if a person cannot go for more than 24 hours without saying any unkind words about or to anyone, then that person has lost control of his tongue. In the first half of the book, Telushkin uses biblical passages, religious parables, and personal anecdotes to illustrate how language is too commonly used for negative purposes?gossip, unfair criticism, and lying, for example. The remaining chapters cover the ways in which language can be used to create positive, healthy relationships and environments. To his credit, the author's use of religious stories and examples is executed in an even-handed, nonpreachy manner, and the moral framework by which he constructs his arguments appeals to a common sense of humanity and decency. Although all of his points have been made before, it is worth hearing them again. For public libraries.?David R. Johnson, Fayetteville P.L., Ark.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, spiritual leader and scholar, is the acclaimed author of nine other nonfiction books, including The Book of Jewish Values, The Golden Land: The Story of Jewish Immigration to America, and Jewish Literacy, the most widely read book on Judaism of the past two decades. He is a senior associate of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, serves on the board of the Jewish Book Council, and is the rabbi of the Los Angeles-based Synagogue for the Performing Arts. He lives with his family in New York City and lectures regularly throughout the United States.

Customer Reviews

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Rabbi Telushkin is one of the great teachers of Jewish ethics today.
Shalom Freedman
Absolutely a wonderful book and recommended reading for anyone who is truly earnest about improving his/her character.
Once you read this book you will never feel the same about how you speak to others.
Jason Manosh (amiel4tzion@yahoo.com)

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Harold McFarland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Old children's rhyme:
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.
Real life:
Sticks and stones break only bones and bones they heal so fast.
But words destroy and kill the soul till nothing's left at last.
Written by a Jewish rabbi and based on his years of experience and study, this book starts with the problem of how we hurt others everyday with our words even when that is not our intention. He discusses the obvious damages of slander, propaganda and gossip and also other ways that we hurt others. For example, if we know something to be true about someone then do we tell someone else? Well, that depends on the circumstances. Is there an issue of someone else's safety involved? Will it help another to avoid financial or other mistakes? If it is just something that you know but will do nothing but cause humiliation to the other person then it is best to keep it to yourself, even if it is the truth. If the only reason to tell someone else is to lower their opinion of the person then it is unethical to disclose the information.
Can people change? I'm sure that each of us knows at least one person who has made a complete change in their lifestyle. Some for the better and some for the worst. As for me, I would not want to be judged today based on all of my opinions, words and actions as a teenager. The author looks at several ways that the press and others have ruined people because while a person can change their life, they cannot change their past.
This is a guide for all those who want to change or improve their relationship whether personal, in business, or other circumstances. This is a guide for those who want to improve their marriage or move it up to the next higher level.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Linda Kiyan on August 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book is for anyone who believes in their heart, that the following statement is not true, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me".

The author, Rabbi Telushkin, states that the words we choose in our everyday conversations are not simply a monotone stream of noise for exchanging information. Rather, words possess tremendous power to shape or break relationships. They can humiliate and destroy reputations, careers, friendships, and marriages and thus leave deep, emotional scars and irrevocable damage.

And, unfortunately, in our society, it seems as though the only verbal exchanges that most(but not all) people are not uncomfortable with, and secretly relish, whether they publicly admit so or not, are the ones that appeal to the weak side of human nature, such as spreading malicious gossip and rumors, constantly criticizing and finding faults in others, and making prejudicial and ugly comments about various racial, ethnic, and religious groups.

Thus by creating a toxic environment, we should not be surprised that there is a small minority, who refuses to take part in this nauseating verbal incivility, and therefore finds themselves isolated, emotionally paralyzed, and unable to wholeheartedly live life to the fullest.

This is where Rabbi Telushkin eloquently offers soothing advice to this often ignored and unspoken pain.

He states that if people were more self-aware and acutely conscious to the inflammatory power of words and its devastating consequences, rather than denying that they exist, they can learn to refrain from(think before you speak!)making inappropriate and negative comments and lead a richer and emotionally deeper life.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
The damage we can do to others by our power of speech -- for example, by gossiping and by passing along rumors for no constructive purpose -- is a matter of great concern in Jewish tradition; one passage of Torah even seems to indicate that embarrassing one's fellow publicly is tantamount to a kind of murder. The most comprehensive works on this topic are those of R. Yisrael Meir Kagan (the Chofetz Chaim), whose writings on Shmirat ha-Lashon (the Laws of Proper Speech) are available from the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation.

R. Joseph Telushkin has provided here a highly readable and accessible introduction to this important topic, suitable for Jews (of all levels of observance) and non-Jews alike. His clear exposition and helpful explanations/examples set out the rationale for what may be _the_ single most important area of Jewish observance for our time.

This volume is highly recommended for anyone, of any religious background or none, who wants to exercise self-control and thereby prevent a great deal of needless but often invisible spiritual damage. All of our actions have consequences -- including and especially our speech.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Steinhardt on September 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book changed the way I speak.
This book has taught me the damage that can be done by words and words alone. It has taught me that words need to be considered before they are spoken. Because of this book, I have examined the way I speak to friends, relatives, my children and complete strangers on the street.
Written in an easy style, Rabbi Telushkin shows by example, how important it is that we monitor our speech to avoid unnecesarily hurting others.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone who has any concern for the way their words affect others.
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