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What not to say

What not to say

Friday, 31 March, 2017 - 2:54 pm

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It’s virtually impossible to talk to people nowadays without politics getting mixed into the discussion. I spend my days discussing religion with people, but politics? Not me! Sometimes the cost of not stating my opinion is getting accused of being pro or against one position or another.

But I choose to keep in mind the advice of the Sages who tell us that, “Just as it is an obligation to say something when it will be heeded, so too it is a mitzvah not to say something if it will not be heeded.”

I think many people would do good for themselves and those in their life if they’d keep this dictum in mind and adhered to it.

This quote from the Talmud brings to mind the great story about one of the Chassidic Masters of the previous generation, Reb Yisrael of Vizhnitz. He once visited the office a wealthy bank manager. When he was ushered into the man’s office, he sat down and looked at the banker without saying a word.

Surprised, the man asked as to the purpose of Reb Yisrael’s visit. Reb Yisrael explained, “I’ve come to fulfill the advice of the Sages not to say that which will not be heeded.”

The curious banker assured him that he would listen. Reb Yisrael just sat there without saying a word.

After numerous requests, with the bank manager assuring Reb Yisrael that he would heed the advice, Reb Yisrael relented. “There is a penniless widow who is about to be evicted from her home due to an outstanding balance she owes to your bank. I hoped that you as the manager would ignore her debt, but I was sure you wouldn’t listen, so I have a mitzvah to remain quiet.”

The bank manager interjected, “But I don’t own the bank - I can’t do anything!”

Reb Yisrael sighed, “See! I knew you wouldn’t listen.” With that, he got up and left.

The manager was inspired by Reb Yisrael’s visit and he made it his business to see to it that the widow’s loan was paid - from his own money.

Bottom line - often, (if not always - at least in regards to some topics), better results come about by that which is not said. 

 

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