middot silence besorah standing strong

standing strong

Written by  rabbi benjamin ehrenfeld

art-angerStanding 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.

Often, our society views the use of words as the most powerful means to stand up for something. Very rarely does someone find a silent rally. I cannot help but wonder if the use of words is always the best protest. In fact, the use of words when we are unjustly put upon may even be the least important mechanism of resilience.

Yeshua’s use of silence throughout the account of his arrest and execution is crucial to his message to the authorities of his time. He only spoke enough to reveal his identity. By revealing his identity he exposed the destructive capacity of Rome, the Jewish people, and his own talmidim. His silence led to his own death but it was also the catalyst that overturned everything. His silence was the most subversive thing he could have used. Yeshua’s kingdom was not Rome, his priesthood was not bought, and his justice was not biased. He had nothing to say to those who accused him of trying to take over structures that were rotten to the core. He did claim authority over the very thing none of his accusers had any authority over: the kingdom of God.

In day-to-day life, few of us encounter opportunities to use silence in such a powerful and world changing way! Nevertheless, I do feel we can learn from Yeshua’s example and realize that our silence can speak louder than words. There are times when the refusal to laugh or respond to a distasteful joke is all that is necessary to shift a conversation to a more decent place. Sometimes sitting silently while another person screams at you is necessary for them to eventually calm down and have a reasonable conversation. Staying firm in one’s convictions without saying any more than is absolutely necessary to express them is one of the surest ways to be properly understood. In the world of twitter, facebook, texting, blogs, and cell-phones we can find silence to be a difficult middah to maintain. However, our silence in a loud world speaks even louder and could make us all a little more open to hear the tremors of the world that is coming.

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