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    Making a noise – Sh’mini

    A terrible thing happened to Aaron. Two of his sons were summarily struck dead as punishment for a grave sin.

    The death of Nadav & Avihu, by James Tissot

    Most parents would weep uncontrollably. But Aaron reacted differently: Vayiddom Aharon, “And Aaron kept silent”.

    And this is not the only crucial moment in Biblical history when silence proved more eloquent than speech.

    When Elijah had been through his great contest with the prophets of Baal he went into the wilderness. There he experienced a strong wind, an earthquake, then a fire.

    But none of these dramatic phenomena brought the presence of God. God was in the kol d’mamah dakkah, the sound of thin silence.

    The rabbis say that if a word is worth one coin, silence is worth two.

    Rabbi Akiva said, “Silence is a fence to wisdom”. Rabban Gamliel reflected, “All my life I have grown up amongst sages, and I have found nothing better for a person than silence”. Another writer observed, “Never speak unless you can improve on silence”.

    The human tongue can bring blessing, but it can also do great harm. It is always better to think before you speak, and then not utter a word, or at least say very little.

    We all know of people who – to mix some metaphors – open their mouths and put their foot into it.

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