Limited Number of Words in Life

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  • #607463

    cantgetit
    Member

    I learnt way back when that every person is given a limited number of words for his lifetime, and once he uses them up he is niftar. I was wondering if anyone here is familiar with the source of this and any additional details.

    #915314

    N.G
    Member

    Who did you hear this from??

    #915315

    WIY
    Member

    I heard it but don’t know source. I think the chofetz chaim says this. I wonder if it also applies to typed words.

    #915316

    N.G
    Member

    WIY- Stop Joking around.

    #915317

    WolfishMusings
    Participant

    I believe we discussed this once before on these boards.

    Wouldn’t that make mute people immortal? 🙂

    The Wolf

    #915318

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Why just words?

    Maybe you have a limited number of swallows and then you die. And blinks. And a limited number of steps. And a limited number of head scratches.

    And whenever you hit the limit on any of them, you die. Sounds just as likely.

    #915319

    WIY
    Member
    #915320

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    WIY: He doesn’t say there where the midrash is. I’d like to look it up, but can’t find it.

    I did a bar ilan search on the terms ?? ????, since that is the phrase of the passuk, and got 6 results, but none of them say that. hmmm.

    #915321

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    Ok, I found it. It is a quote from the ???? ?????. This midrash was compiled in the 14th century, but was only brought to general attention in the 1800’s. They have it on otsar hachochma, but not on bar ilan. It is in ???? ????, on page 60 of the edition published by Dovid Tzvi Hoffman.

    Here is what it says: It is on the passuk of ?? ???? ????? ????, and the obvious question is how does Hashem know what Pharoh will say?

    The Midrash says: this is what the navi means when he says Hashem is ???? ???? ?? ????. This passuk is a praise of the awesomeness of Hashem, that when He creates a child, he knows how many words the person will say in their lifetime, and what those words will be.

    The midrash continues: And not only that, but Hashem also knows how many times you will stand up and sit down, and how many steps you will take. As the passuk says ??? ???? ???? ?????, and ?? ??? ???? ?????. And not only those obvious things, but even what is hidden Hashem knows, that is: your thoughts, as it says ??? ? ???? ??.

    So, so sum up: This midrash is just saying that Hashem knows how many words you will speak in your life; not that your life is shorter if say words. If you really think so, then you should follow the entire thing, and say that since Hashem also knows how many thoughts, steps, sitting downs, and getting ups you will do, each of those also shorten your life. Good luck not thinking anymore; maybe sleep all day.

    Please everyone: stop teaching your kids narishkeit. I don’t think narishkeit shortens your life, but it sure makes it less fulfilling. (Also, did you all notice how I said as a joke last night that it should apply to steps you take, and that is exactly what the midrash does say–that it is the same.)

    #915322

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    I should also mention that Rabbi Frand’s source in WIY’s link, a sefer ???? ????? (a modern sefer from bnei brak), also cites a Chida who says al pi kabbalah that you should not speak extra words because words are a piece of your neshama.

    That probably comes more from the idea that humans are a ??? ????, that our neshama is special in some way because we speak. So words are a part of your neshama.

    Just wanna also point out here, that that idea doesn’t at all hint either that you die faster if you talk more.

    #915323

    Wisey
    Participant

    Going a life without talking just reveals that you were only given less words. This relates to the question of how do I have bechirah if Hashem knows what I am going to do?

    #915324

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕
    Participant

    PBA,

    Imrei Shammai.

    The loshon of the Medrash Hagodol regarding speech differs from the loshon regarding steps etc.

    Hashem is “gozer” the amount of speech; the sitting, standing, and ambulation are “oleh b’machshavto”. He knows it, but it doesn’t say he rations it.

    It is possible to understand “gozer” as rations.

    #915325

    Sam2
    Participant

    Apparently this idea was the basis of a recent movie. Also, I once had a Rebbe quote it to me B’sheim the Ba’al Shem Tov.

    #915326

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    DY: I don’t think it is impossible; and if I saw a rishon or even acharon say it, I wouldn’t make fun.

    If the Baal Shem Tov said it, I even still wouldn’t make fun.

    I have a hard time believing anyone did though, since the concept makes so little sense to me.

    #915327

    oomis
    Participant

    I believe that the author of “Tehillah” who was an Orthodox Jew (name escapes me, as I am having a Senior moment right now – wait, was it Isaac Bashevis Singer?) actually based the character around the idea that she believed she had a finite number of words to speak (so she spoke little), and that she would be niftar when she reached her last word. And though I read this story in the original Hebrew maybe forty years ago or so, I think that is what happened at the end of her story. Am I remembering correctly? Anyone familiar with this story?

    #915328

    WIY
    Member

    Sam2

    Funny, I asked someone about this and he says the Vilna Gaon says it but doesn’t remember where.

    #915329

    popa_bar_abba
    Participant

    I once had a rebbi quote it to me b’sheim the Sefer Erech Shtuyos.

    #915330

    ujew
    Participant

    I believe I once saw such a thought in the commentary of the Artscroll Siddur b’sheim the Baal Shem Tov.

    #915331

    frummy in the tummy
    Participant

    Someone was about to tell me the source but they only had three words left.

    Seriously, though, I completely agree with Wisey; regardless of the truth of this idea, it should have absolutely zero impact on the way you live your life – it reminds me of the whole bashert thing. Whether it’s true or not, if you think about it too much you just make yourself crazy and don’t accomplish anything for anyone. It’s nisgaleh after the fact how many words were allotted to someone because, well, that’s how many words the dude spoke, just as it’s nisgaleh after the fact who your bashert is because that’s who you married. Cute idea, should have zero impact on the choices you make in life. (I’m not saying speech isn’t important, or that it shouldn’t be evaluated and thought over before being used, but refraining because you’re afraid you’ll keel over mid-sentence is plain stupidity.)

    #915332

    mik5
    Participant

    I learned this on the aish hatorah web site. however, words of Torah are not included in the count. Words of Torah do NOT shorten your life c”v. They actually prolong it.

    #915333

    Bustercrown
    Participant

    @wisey: what is your question about how a person has bechira even though Hashem knows in advance what the person will choose to do? just because Hashem knows in advance what your ultimate choices will be does NOT mean He is choosing them for you! You are given the free will, but Hashem can predict in advance and knows what you will want to choose. He does not interfere with your choice.

    #915334

    oomis
    Participant

    ” believe that the author of “Tehillah” who was an Orthodox Jew (name escapes me, as I am having a Senior moment right now – wait, was it Isaac Bashevis Singer?) “

    I remembered later this evening that the author was S.Y. Agnon.

    #915335

    Wisey
    Participant

    Buttercrown: The question of bechirah is actually one that the Rambam and other Gedolim deal with. Let’s say that Hashem already knows today that I will eat a cheeseburger tomorrow, then when I wake up the next day i don’t have bechirah. I think this might be one of the matters which are not understandable by the human mind because it’s like Hashem knows tomorrow and then goes back in time and knows today. I think this discussion should be posted on the ‘Philosophical Qs’ thread.

    #915336

    frummy in the tummy
    Participant

    Wisey – The way you have described it is completely understandable to the human mind. I happen to have the knowledge that you chose to write that post, because I have seen you do exactly that – does that mean you didn’t have bechira to write it when you wrote it? It just means that I know you did it; knowledge does not determine a lack of bechira, whether that knowledge is before the event or after, UNLESS the knowledge is that of the one making the choice, e.g. if you had been told before writing the post that you would write the post, you might say that your bechira had been removed, but as long as the one performing the act has no knowledge of what he/she will choose, they can choose whatever they want. One thing that WOULD cause a paradox beyond human understanding is if you say that Hashem’s knowledge, as opposed to anyone else’s, actually does affect what will happen in the world, while saying that bechira still exists. That’s where human logic fails.

    That said, you are right that this should be in ‘Philosophical Qs’ thread. 😀

    #915337

    WIY
    Member

    Frummy

    I respectfully disagree on one point you mentioned. Imagine that yout went to see Eliyahu Hanavi and he tells you about a whole bunch of things that you will do (or choose to do) in the future. How does this take away your bechira? In the moment of that event you are choosing based on what you think and feel is a proper course of action. Someone telling you your future is just telling you what you will choose in the future. That doesn’t change your bechira because you are still you and you will still make the choices you make for the the reasons you make them. Capice?

    #915338

    Das
    Member

    Frummy – the difference with a person “knowing” what you will do in advance and Hashem knowing, is that Hashem is never wrong. You can tell me you know I’m going to write this post right before I do, but I might change my mind last minute. Hashem is never wrong, so if He knows you will do something how can you decide not to? That’s why it’s so hard for humans to understand this.

    #915339

    frummy in the tummy
    Participant

    WIY – you are right that it may not necessarily completely remove bechira, but because many of our choices are based on the knowledge we have, and we are certainly affected by what others tell us, you might say that psychologically, if Eliyahu were tell me what I would do in the future, and I believe him, that may have a very strong influence on my decision to perform said action. Since I know that I will choose to do an action, my actions certainly FEEL forced to that action. Technically bechira may still be mine, but if I know the result then any perceived bechira is gone. As you said, “you will still make the choices you make for the the reasons you make them” – well in this case, the reason I am making that decision seems to simply be that I have been informed that I will make that decision.

    Das – infallibility does not necessarily remove bechira; If you are reading a book for the second time, and you are up to the ending, you KNOW what the ending will be, but does that knowledge determine what the ending will be? No – it’s determined by whatever the author decided to write when he wrote the book. This is even though there is no chance you will be wrong, because you have already seen the ending. So imagine that Hashem has already read the book of history, from its beginning to its end. Although Hashem’s knowledge of events that will occur is perfect and flawless, that does not contradict the possibility that we humans, as the collective writers of the story through our actions and decisions, are using bechira to make those decisions.

    #915340

    shmendrick
    Member
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