An Adam Gadol is given this title because he is great. Great in Torah, great in Middos, great in making everything he or she does into Avodas Hashem. I recently read the following at chabad.org regarding the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s style of writing:
It is clear from the Rebbe’s editing patterns that talking and writing positively are always an imperative. Apparently because positive writing has a beneficial influence on the reader’s thought process.
This particular response – actually an edit – that I unearthed was penned by the Rebbe on the margins of a letter drafted by one of the Rebbe’s secretaries (based on the Rebbe’s dictation) for a dinner that was to take place on the day after Passover. The Rebbe writes on the draft: “!!!סגנון דהיפך הטוב הוא” “the wording is the opposite of good!!!”*
Here is the text the Rebbe was referring to:
Had the Jewish children in Egypt not received a Jewish education … there would be no one to liberate…
The Rebbe wrote in Hebrew how the text should be corrected—and this is the way it was translated and appeared in the final version:
…it is only because the Jewish children in Egypt received the proper Jewish education… our whole Jewish people… was liberated from Egyptian slavery…
*Note that the Rebbe wrote “the opposite of good”—another hallmark of the Rebbe’s, never to say or write the word commonly used to connote “the opposite of good.”
I found this very interesting, because the importance of how we speak is also illustrated in the following excerpt from the biography of Rav Dessler:
Rabbi Nachum Vevel [Rav Dessler’s son] Dessler’s childhood memories of this maternal grandmother Rebbetzin Peshe Ziv [the Alter of Kelm’s daughter-in-law] provide some glimpse of the rareifed atmosphere in which his mother was raised. He once refused to eat the food his grandmother offered him, complaining that the plate was shmutzik (dirty). His grandmother told him that she would be happy to offer him another plate, but that he must not talk like that. “We do not say the plate is dirty,” she said. “We say that the plate is not clean.”
The young boy could barely comprehend what his grandmother was talking about, and replied, “But everyone speaks like that.” His grandmother was unfazed. “That may be,” she said, “but you come from a long line of people who do not talk like that.”
Negativity breeds negativity. Saying something in a positive way probably requires thought, at times. It’s easier to say that “the soup went bad” than to say “the soup isn’t good”. A refined way of phrasing something can make all the difference.
Remember this is all based on the chumash using the worlds “that is not pure” instead of “that is impure” and Rashi noting that the Torah uses extra words to avoid speaking negatively.
Garnel, I was actually thinking about adding that Rashi in the post. Thanks!!