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    Loud & quiet voice – Vayyiggash

    Joseph reconciles with his brothers

    Joseph reconciles with his brothers

    After a lot of drama. Joseph and his brothers are finally reconciled. Years of estrangement fall away.

    All of Egypt soon hears that Joseph’s family have arrived in the country and will be settling down under Joseph’s benevolent auspices.

    Despite the lack of modern means of transport and communication, the news travels far and fast – vehakol nishma (Gen. 45:16).

    The Zohar points out that the word kol, a voice or sound, is spelt without the usual middle letter, vav. The result is that it looks like kal, easy, simple.

    The lesson we learn from the Zohar is that there are two types of sound, loud and soft, “hard” and “easy”. Anyone can make a big blustering noise and indeed be a big noise, but, perhaps strangely, the second type of sound is generally more audible.

    This point figured in the advice I once gave to an aspiring preacher, to whom I said, “You know, you don’t have to shout; the congregation will hear you even better if you enunciate properly and don’t rush your words, but speak on a quieter level and let your content sink in”.

    Sometimes you don’t have to be audible at all; a quiet companionable silence can be very effective.

    No wonder the sages advise us not to talk too much when we seek to comfort a person who is bereaved (Avot 4:18). A good general rule is often, “Let the occasion (even a simchah) speak for itself!”

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