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Biblical Faith – with Shmuel “Sam” Peak

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Mishnah 17

All my days I have been raised among the Sages
Rashi explains this statement to mean, “I observed that the Sages practice silence and I have found that it is good even for them (although they have wise things to say). Therefore, how much more so is silence suitable for ordinary people, who are not sages.”

…and I found nothing better for the body than silence

Shimon regards speech as a physical faculty, in that it is not purely cognitive. It is true that speech can be the handmaiden of emotional and creative thinking, however, the Mishnah is concerned with directed, analytical thought. Because speech occupies our concentration, we are more likely to err while talking than while given solely reflection.

…not study, but practice is the main thing

One might erroneously conclude from this that the exposition of the Torah, is primary and that its practice, is secondary. The truth is that, while study is great, practice is the foundation on which intellectual achievement must be built. One can acquire the highest level of intellect only by building, a level at a time, on this firm foundation.

…and everyone who talks excessively brings on sin

This Mishnah is not a mere repetition of the verse, “In a multitude of words sin will not cease.” That passage means that one cannot avoid wasted words and foolishness in a large volume of speech.

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