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silence
middot silence

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middahSilence offers deeper engagement with the world.

Silence is the ultimate purity in speech. By immersing ourselves in moments of silence (apart from technology and social interactions), we can begin to listen to greater things as Hashem speaks to us through our souls, minds, and hearts.

Perfecting this trait allows one to know when to speak and when not to speak. When we exemplify silence so as to not commit lashon hara (evil speech), we are using our speech in the purest way possible. However, silence can also be a detriment if someone is counting on you to say something to uplift, defend or contribute. A perfect balance of this trait is using every word for higher reasons, not just to fill the air. Before you open your mouth, be silent and reflect: “What benefit will my speech bring to me or others?”

Suggested practices: 

  • Say only positive words regarding a situation or person.
  • Listen more than you speak this week.
  • Practice being comfortable with silence in a conversation and don’t seek to fill the quiet spaces with awkward conversation.
  • If a situation arises and someone or a group needs defense, do not be silent. Rather gently defend by commenting or speaking your truth to correct and bring honor. Do not be complicit.

featured articles


I find myself increasingly able to tune out the world around me. I find I don’t always need a quiet space to think clearly, pray, or meditate. In fact, I meditate quite often o...
by rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld in daily living
Not only was Rabbi Israel [Salanter] opposed to the performance of the finer points of mitzvot at the expense of human beings, he held that one had no right even to perform the esse...
by rebbetzin malkah in stories
Recently I heard of the business failure of a friend. This was not just anybody, but one of the most generous men I know. Though he is not a wealthy man, he has always been gener...
by rabbi paul saal in daily living
Yaakov’s short letter is loaded with instructions regarding proper speech. Yaakov reminds us that we oughtn’t swear by anything, but let “yes” and “no” suffice (5:12). H...
by rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld in besorah
"Do not stand idly by the blood of your brother, I am God" —Leviticus 19:16 Back in the early 1990's, an unknown figure named Erin Brokovich emerged.  She was a single moth...
by rebbetzin malkah in torah
A famous Chasidic story illustrates the extent of the damage that Lashon HaRa can do: A man went about gossiping and telling malicious stories without restraint. Later, when he real...
by rebbetzin malkah in stories
Many people have a hard time with silence. It makes them uncomfortable and they feel they have to fill the void. For those who are aquainted with snow in winter, you know what I m...
by rebbetzin malkah in meditation
Shimon ben Gamliel said: I have grown up among the Sages all my days, yet I have never found anything better for a person than silence. Study [of Torah] is not the main thing, but t...
by rebbetzin malkah in mesorah

 

accounting


Use these questions to evaluate your day: What were the "seeds" that started to affect your ability to hold your silence on a matter today? Think of several good things that h...

quotes


“Silence is a protective fence for wisdom.”—Avot 3:17 “And you shall honor it [Shabbat] by abstaining from your affairs, by refraining from your wants, and by not engagin...

 

more articles

daily living


I find myself increasingly able to tune out the world around me. I find I don’t always need a quiet space to think clearly, pray, or meditate. In fact, I meditate quite often o...
Silence is a powerful thing that can be good or bad. If you see a crime being committed and someone being hurt or killed and you keep silent, it is sinful. How many people stood b...
Several years ago I had the opportunity to attend one of the last public appearances of one of the most renowned philosophers of the last half of the 20th century.  At the outs...
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. --Colossians 4:6 ...
Silence is something we try to avoid. If there is silence in a conversation, we feel awkward, and say something just to fill the void in the conversation. The problem is, when peopl...
Recently I heard of the business failure of a friend. This was not just anybody, but one of the most generous men I know. Though he is not a wealthy man, he has always been gener...
An encrypted cache of uncensored documents that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has circulated across the Internet may ensure that a huge array of secrets will be revealed even i...

torah


One of the current terms of religious discussion that I’ve grown to suspect is “spirituality.” I’m tired of hearing people say, “I’m not religious; I’m spiritual,” w...
I tend to be a quiet guy, always desiring to choose my words carefully. I suppose part of this is influenced by people I've met journeying through life who have a lot to say but ten...
When you make a vow to the Lord, your God, you shall not delay in paying it, for the Lord, your God, will demand it of you, and it will be [counted as] a sin for you. But if you sha...
Silence is one of the great casualties of the digital age. A generation ago, it was already hard to escape the drone of the broadcast media, especially as we started to put a radio ...
"Do not stand idly by the blood of your brother, I am God" —Leviticus 19:16 Back in the early 1990's, an unknown figure named Erin Brokovich emerged.  She was a single moth...

besorah


Standing up for what you believe in is a good thing. In fact, this is a value one can find in a number of religions and philosophies of life. ...
When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for what seemed like half an hour (Rev. 8:1, CJB). Silence is the last thing we’d expect in heaven—the scen...
Yaakov’s short letter is loaded with instructions regarding proper speech. Yaakov reminds us that we oughtn’t swear by anything, but let “yes” and “no” suffice (5:12). H...

mesorah


The difference between self-expression and communication is fairly simple. Self-expression does not require listening or silence, while communication involves both. ...
Silence is not one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about the davening experience. Any given service is saturated with words, words that one must say to fulf...
“Come, my children, listen to me, and I will teach you to fear Hashem. Who is the man who desires life, to love each day and see only goodness in them? Let him then guard his tong...
Shimon ben Gamliel said: I have grown up among the Sages all my days, yet I have never found anything better for a person than silence. Study [of Torah] is not the main thing, but t...

meditation


The middah of silence brings us back to the opening word of the Shema—Listen! To listen well, to deeply hear another’s word, we must still the inner flow of our own words. ...
Many people have a hard time with silence. It makes them uncomfortable and they feel they have to fill the void. For those who are aquainted with snow in winter, you know what I m...

stories


Not only was Rabbi Israel [Salanter] opposed to the performance of the finer points of mitzvot at the expense of human beings, he held that one had no right even to perform the esse...
He was as careful in his speech as in his actions. It goes without saying that he refrained from whatever was prohibited by the halachah. For this we have Rabbi Israel [Salante...
A famous Chasidic story illustrates the extent of the damage that Lashon HaRa can do: A man went about gossiping and telling malicious stories without restraint. Later, when he real...

 

 

 

"Before you open your mouth, be silent and reflect: 'What benefit will my speech bring me or others?'" --Rabbi M.M. Lefin of Satanov, Cheshbon HaNefesh

Silence is the ultimate purity in speech.  As the menorah in the Temple represented purity and brilliance, so too do we shine like a menorah when we guard our words.  When we exemplify silence so as to not commit lashon hara, we are using our speech in the purest way possible.   Before you open your mouth, be silent and reflect: "What benefit will my speech bring to me or others?"

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