Saturday, November 18, 2006

The strong, silent type (Avot 1:15)

יום ראשון כ''ח בחשון תשס''ז

שמאי אומר: עשה תורתך קבע; אמור מעט ועשה הרבה והוי מקבל את כל אדם בסבר פנים יפות.

Shammai says, make your Torah study a fixed thing. Say little and do much. And
receive every person with a friendly face.

Jews sometimes describe themselves as more talkative than the people among whom we live and understand this talkativeness as part of our culture.

There may be some truth to this being a cultural value, but, as Shammai’s words instruct us, our tradition also instructs us to be careful in our speech – “say little and do much.”

Albeck says that “say little” actually means something more specific – that we should promise little.

It is important for us to think about what the impact of our words are on others. Are we saying things that they may understand as promises?

Will our deeds meet those understood promises, or will we leave people feeling disappointed?


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