Rav Yisrael Salanter’s 13 Midos- #13

Silence: Deliberate on the ramifications of your words before uttering them

Let’s get down to business. If you read my last posting then you know that there are times when we don’t need to speak. There are times when we’re tired, or upset, or we’ve had one to many l’chaims and we just say whatever pops into our head. This is the worst. It’s only the worst because the person we’re speaking to thinks that we’ve put hours of thought into, what we know, is an off-the-cuff remark.

“If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” How many times did my parents say that to me? I know, sometimes, I feel an urge to put my two cents in, just to be heard. At times, you truly show how intelligent you are by knowing when to keep your mouth closed.

Rav Yisrael says that we need to deliberate on the ramifications of your words before uttering them. How often do I say something without really thinking about it? How often do I daven without really thinking about what I’m saying? How often to I talk to family members without really thinking before I speak?

As I wrote when I first started this series, the gadlus of Rav Yisrael’s 13 Midos is that they have applications on both the Bein Adam L’makom and Bein Adam L’chavero levels (which are really equal levels).

Words reveal our thoughts. It doesn’t make a difference if we’re talking to a friend, writing an email, posting a blog, or even commenting on one. I need to think before I speak. I remember once posting a comment on a blog and the admistrator deleted what I wrote. I had criticized another comment posted by someone else. I was polite when I made my criticism, but there was that underlying tone, that came through loud and clear in what I had written.

Rav Yisrael’s last midah challenges me to think about how powerful the gift of speech really is. When I communicate with someone, I need to realize that I’m revealing part of my neshama. The part in me that is connected to Hashem, the source of all truth.

This brings us back to the first midah
Truth: Never speak a word unless your heart can testify to its truth

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