Silence is Golden - Thursday, June 7

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 9:27am -- Rabbi Dan Dorsch

2016_rabbi_dorsch_headshot.pngOnly because it involves my Philadelphia Eagles, I am going to take the bait.

However, rather than speaking about who is right and who is wrong, what I want to point out is how absolutely insane it is that our society has fallen into a spell where everyone thinks that it’s important to comment on everything.  

Judaism has always recognized that silence is a powerful weapon.  So much so, that in chapter 1 of Pirkei Avot, Shimon the son of Rabban Gamliel remarked that he “grew up all of his life around the sages, and he did not find anything better one’s body than silence.”  In corporate America, the most powerful person in the room isn’t the one who jumps in to respond at the meeting, but is the person who listens. A person in silence keeps people guessing; she could be an angry person who has succeeded in capturing her anger, or a pleased person playing a poker face in a negotiation.  However, what I have learned above all in my rabbinate is in challenging situations, silence always carries with it a sense of gravitas.

If Shimon, the son of Gamliel, were alive today, he would unquestionably remark that people in our society talk too much (yes, those of you who know me well will recognize the irony in that statement), especially about things on which we have no expertise.  If you don’t believe me, go on Twitter and look at the absolutely moronic things people from around the world say with such absolute conviction about Israel. Journalists have us all convinced that not having a comment implies somehow we are guilty as sin.  In reality, the only thing we may be guilty of by not talking is adding fuel to the fire and helping to make headlines.

Players standing or kneeling during the National Anthem will unquestionably remain a deeply divisive issue.  There are proud veterans who have served who feel quite strongly about this issue in either direction. Having not fought under our flag or lost friends in combat, I am no expert to tell either side its emotions are wrong.  

However, as a self-proclaimed “Philadelphia Eagle expert,” I will tell you that I am deeply upset that this situation has escalated wildly out of control and left a bitter taste in those of us who have been relishing in our team’s victory.  It took us my entire lifetime for them to win the Superbowl. Can we talk about that instead?

That’s all I have to say.  Not everything in life needs a comment.  

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