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The Art Of Silence
Aharon Levy
The silence of our father is powerful and a message of magnificence is hidden in it.

 

After the binding of Yitzchak, Abraham and his son return home as a whole. After his tenth test, Abraham reaches his Spiritual peak of which there is no higher, that the Angel testifies "Now I know for you are G-d fearing". And from this, Abraham understands that his trials are over.

When he comes home, he discovers that his wife Sarah is no longer alive. He admits to the fact that the reason to her death was caused by a bit of information of which the Satan had given her, by telling her that her husband has bound her only son, and from her sorrow had passed away. And Abraham cries!!!

Exactly at this sublime moment of which her husband and son have reached their maximum Spirituality, particularly now, she is no longer. Instead of closing her eyes from the joy of a mother and wife, and rejoice for her loved ones, his wife dies and because of a terrible mistake. This is an extremely painful ordeal.

Such an ordeal- explain our Sages, was the reason which caused the teacher of Rabbi Meir- Elisha Ben Abuya, to become corrupted. Elisha Ben Abuya was a witness to a tragic occasion of which a father asked his son to go to the roof top in order to perform the Commandment of Shiluach Haken. The son that went up to the roof top in order to perform his father's command, fell and died. Where is his lengthened life from this? - asked Elisha Ben Abuya, where is his benefit? Doesn't it mention that for these two Commandments- Honoring Parents and Shiluach Haken "For it will be good for you, and extend your days" this is good? This is called extended days? And Elisha Ben Abuya went astray. 

Abraham could've also debated with G-d, and doubted the ways of G-d. How is it possible that a person commits the commands of G-d, and in return will be harmed from it? Why did He allow the Satan to trick Sarah? How is it possible that G-d continues to test him, even after He knows that Abraham is G-d fearing? But he does not ask- he is silent! He's silent, and cries.

Abraham cries upon his wife, since he is a human being and has a heart of flesh, and is silent before his Creator. The silence of our father is powerful and a message of magnificence is hidden in it. His silence is shouting from the depths of his heart, and rises up above our imagination. He stands in the entrance of his home, and by his feet lays his wife's bed, surrounding him his Kenaan neighbors  crowd, and add salt to his wounds of Faith. They expect him to speak, but he remains silent. From his silence we learn that sometimes silence carries in its wings great intensity, in which the power of words cannot express. Silence as confession. Through his silence, Abraham confesses before his neighbors that he does not understand his Creator, and nevertheless he trusts in Him.

Abraham's silence is not natural at all. When G-d informed him upon His intention to destroy Sodom, Abraham did not keep silent, but stood before G-d with a complaint "the Judge of the world, will not make Judgment?" Abraham knew how to plead his claims before G-d, but here he keeps silent. To teach us there's a moment to speak, and a moment to remain silent.

Here before an incident and here after.

A few years ago a woman who lost her two children in a fire that had burst in their Sukkah, was interviewed on the radio of "Galei Tzahal". "What do you have to say?"- asked the interviewer. He expected her to complain, to speak harshly heavenward. "I have many things to say"-the anguished mother replied, "but what I have to tell G-d you won't understand".

The silence that Abraham had is not a silence of which is required from the Laws of the Torah, but comes from goodwill. Its great strength outpoured to the long silence of many Jews, who were brutally tortured in the hands of their different enemies.

After the passing of the Mashgiach the Gaon Rabbi Meir Hadash Z"tzl, the Mashgiach Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Plaey Ztz"l gathered us for a talk of Chizuk and Mussar. This conversation was very special, and left me a very strong impact. The Mashgiach Ztz"l didn't say one word the whole time. Throughout a half hour the Mashgiach who was around eighty years old sat and cried like a child. Wiped his tears, wanted to speak and cried again. Wiped his tears again, and cried. When he noticed that it was already time for Maariv, he looked up and asked us: "Children, who will I consult with now?" and stepped out of the room.

This instructive conversation came up many times in other Mussar discussions although not one word was said in it. Great is the power of speech, however greater is the power of silence. If in order to speak one must learn, how much more so to keep silent. A word in stone, and silence in clefts.

 

Translated By: Tzipora Niazov


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