The conclusion of Shemoneh Esrei begins with the words: “Hashem, guard my tongue from evil and my lips from deceitful words.” Of all the requests we could make at that auspicious moment, what is the significance of this one?
Our Sages tells us that debasing one’s lips with words of slander and falsehood could cause one’s prayers to go unanswered. Therefore, as soon as we finish Shemoneh Esrei, the first thing we do is ask Hashem to guard us from forbidden speech. By declaring our utter disdain for any form of untruth, we hope that all our prayers will find favor.
King David developed this idea further in Tehillim when he wrote, “Guard your tongue from evil, and your lips from deceitful words … The eyes of G-d are upon the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers. They cry out and G-d hears, and He rescues them from all their troubles” (34: 13,15). From the juxtaposition of these verses, King David’s message is clear: One who guards his speech will see the fruits of his effort – his prayers will be answered! For this reason, this plea is perfectly placed at the conclusion of all of our prayers during Shemoneh Esrei.
Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org