Rav Yisrael Salanter’s 13 Midos- #6

Gentleness: The wise speak in a gentle manner; always try to speak softly

I heard a great line once: You attract just as many bees with honey as you do with vinegar. It’s true. The way I say things has a positive effect if done properly. If you look at the midos I’ve written about so far, it’s interesting that they are all positive things. Midah # 1 is Emes not Sheker. The “wise speak in a gentle manner”, they speak in the positive. My best friend told me that to get respect you’ve got to give respect. Speaking to others with derech eretz, in a “gentle manner” makes you wise.

When I’m not speaking in a “gentle manner” everything erupts. That’s just how most people are. If I yell or raise my voice at you, then you’ll do it right back at me. If I type like THIS THEN I’M YELLING! I find that I easily get carried away when someone won’t hear my side of the story. Someone who thinks before they speak will speak softly.

Look, I’ve yelled before. It doesn’t accomplish much except that you sound louder and it’s embarrassing. This is why midah #4 was Tranquility. I need to behave in a calm fashion before I even open my mouth. What Rav Yisrael is telling me is that my words are powerful. Everyone has been hurt by something that someone has said. While physical abuse is outwardly more apparent, verbal abuse hurts us on the inside. Sharp words hurt, soft words don’t.

7 thoughts on “Rav Yisrael Salanter’s 13 Midos- #6

  1. Pragmatician

    Great post and absolutely true.
    I can’t stand people who think the only way to make something clear is by shouting it.

    I personally am very careful about it, yelling is just not my thing.
    You know the trick where your tape someone yelling and then you let them hear themselves?
    Quite effective.

  2. Neil Harris

    SWFM: If I link female bloggers, then my readers will find better blogs. 🙂

    ASJ: Great quote, thanks!

    Prag: I thought you were going to mention the trick where you use duct tape on your mouth. Yeah, tape recordings or answering machines work wonders.

  3. A Frum Idealist

    very fitting post for today. erev shabbas chazon parshas devarim. devarim is tochacha, but you see how moshe initially gives his tochacha, he speaks with hints and speaks gently. he builds up klal yisrael so that they shouldn’t feel that they are unworthy of eretz yisrael.


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