https://aishstlouis.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/slider01-1-768x411.jpg 411 768 Caren Goldstein https://aishstlouis.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/aish_logo.svg Caren Goldstein2018-01-03 12:00:262019-02-15 13:08:56A Message from Mimi… February/16/2019 Adar Alef/11/5779
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” Some attribute this fun quote to Abraham Lincoln, others to Maurice Switzer. No matter who said it, the point of it is clear. I am sure all of us have been in a position either where we wished someone else had kept her mouth shut, or we wish we would have done so ourselves. Knowing when to speak up and when to keep quiet is an art, and it comes from a skill worth developing.
Judaism says our mouth can be compared to the sea. Just as the ocean is contained with banks and borders, so too our lips and teeth should contain what is inside our mouths. And just as the ocean becomes dangerous when it overflows its borders, so does our speech when it rushes out without boundaries.
If you read through this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Tetzaveh, you will read many descriptions of the garments that the priests and high priests (Kohanim and Kohen Gadol) wore in the Temple. As you already know, the Torah would never dedicate so many verses in the Torah to something unless it has many more layers of meaning to it other than its face value. And so it is with the garments worn by the priests. The commentaries tell us that the special clothes of the Kohen Gadol (high priest) were sewn and decorated in a way that reminded the people to be careful with their speech.
The robe worn by the Kohen Gador was turquoise blue, reminiscent of the sea, reminding everyone of the borders of the ocean and the boundaries of their mouths. It also alluded to the color of the heavens, reminding us that G-d is always watching and listening to what we are saying. The hem of the robe was decorated with pomegranates and bells sewn on it. The bells represented an open mouth, with the knocker of the bell like the tongue, making noise and sounds as it moved around. The pomegranates, on the other hand, represented a closed mouth sitting silently. The alternating of bells and pomegranates on his robe reminded the people that sometimes our voices are supposed to be heard and sometimes we are better off remaining silent.
It is interesting that Aharon was the first High Priest to wear these garments. We know that Aharon had the unique ability to restore peace between arguing parties. He was a “rodef shalom,” a pursuer of peace in the Jewish community. And the way he did this was with his mouth! He knew how to speak in a way that helped people reconcile their differences and see each other in a new light that was positive and unified. He was the perfect person to represent the good ways in which speech can be used.
Also, after Aharon lost his 2 sons to a deadly punishment, the Torah says “Vayidom Aharon,” and Aharon was silent. He accepted his lot without complaint or kvetches. He knew that the ways of G-d are sometimes beyond our comprehension, and voicing our displeasure with them can be a futile activity. Aharon had the gift of remaining silent when silence was the only appropriate response.
Judaism has its own quotes about silence. In Ethics of the Fathers 3:13 it says, “Silence is the fence of wisdom.” Keeping quiet can be the hallmark of someone who is wise. Knowing when to remain silent is actually trickier than knowing when to speak up. But as Lincoln or Switzer said, sometimes it is better to remain that way than to remove all doubt.
We are all human. Hashem knows that better than we do sometimes. He, therefore, gives us lots of hints and reminders in the world around us to help keep us in line. Our job is to open our eyes to His messages so that we can internalize them and take them to heart!
Wishing all of you a warm Shabbos, filled with positive speech that builds and shows deep wisdom,
PS Join us for fun and inspiration this week at JWS and Aish!
Monday, Feb 18 — Mamas in Pajamas conference call class: Creation of the World, Day 4 – Deeper.
8:30 pm @ your couch:)
8:30 pm @ your couch:)
Tuesday, Feb 19 — Special guest speak Rabbi Tzvi Sytner! For our annual Rabbi Noah Weinberg Memorial Lecture. Not to be missed! 7:30 pm @ Hilton Frontenac
Thursday, Feb 21 — Coffee Schmooze 9 am @ Kohn’s
Thursday, Feb 21 — CommUNITY event for JFed, JWS will be represented, Ruchie Koval (a JWRP trip leader!) will be speaking! 7 pm at Hilton Frontenac.
****Have you heard the news??? From 2-4 pm on Sunday, Feb 24, we will be having an important and fun self-defense day for women! Come learn basic self-defense moves from a master instructor. Snacks too! Email me for details. Only $10 if you register in advance by February 21st!***