The Sixties Radical-Azriel Words that Matter

When I speak I must take into account how others hear and understand my words.

The angel sent to overthrow Sodom told Lot that he was about to destroy it, as if to say that he had the power to do so himself.

[The angel said to Lot,] “Hurry! Escape [to the nearby city], for I can do nothing until you arrive there. Genesis 19:22

Angels possess no intrinsic identity; they are simply personifications of G‑d’s missions. Therefore, when the angels previously declared, “We are going to destroy the city,” they meant that G‑d was going to destroy the city through them, since they did not perceive themselves as separate from G‑d.

Lot, however, misunderstood their words to mean that they did have independent powers outside of G‑d’s. Therefore, the angels were compelled here to clearly state that their power was G‑d-given.

When speaking with others, we too must take into account how they will interpret our words, ensuring that our intentions not be misinterpreted.1 Sichot Kodesh 5733, vol. 1, pp. 251–252.

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