There is no doubt that there are times when people say inflammatory or offensive things to us or about us. And certainly, when we catch word of it, we are ready inside to let them have it and let them know how hurt either our feelings or our pride is. But this story about a tzaddik shows us that words have power. In this case, the words had so much power that the recipient of this curse found himself on the other end of calamity. Instead of looking beyond the words and maintaining a calm demeanor, the tzaddik reacted and used his words to harm rather than bring healing.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. —Proverbs 15:1
finding the right words
Truly finding the right words as a response to an offense is a very difficult task. Emotional situations demand a non-emotional response. In order to achieve this, we must place ourselves in a state of calmness. The middah of nichutah is one in which a person has tranquility, serenity and gentleness. Certainly, one who is agitated, sharp with words, and terse does not exemplify this middah.
If we should find ourselves in this situation, it is important that we consider what is bubbling inside ourselves and choose calmness; for in calmness of demeanor, we will find calmness of words. Not only will we have the chance to turn away wrath, but possible misfortune and regret.