Silence it is good in many situations, such as in that of one who has been visited with the attribute of justice, as in the case of Aharon, where it is written [this verse]: "And Aharon was silent." If one hears others insulting him, he should remain silent. Silence in the face of insult is a great virtue. One should also accustom himself to silence in the privy, which is modesty (cf. Berachos 62b). And it requires great zeal to remain silent in the synagogue, to refrain from speaking even in words of Torah; how much more so to refrain in other matters, and all so that he can concentrate his heart on prayer. If one is sitting among the wise, he should be quiet and listen to the words. For when he is quiet, he hears what he did not know, and when he speaks, he does not grow in knowledge. But if he is in doubt as to what the Sages are saying, he should ask them, for remaining silent at such a time is very bad. King Shelomo, may peace be upon him, said (Koheles 3:7): "There is a time to be silent and a time to speak." Sometimes speech is good, and sometimes silence is good. And the Sage has said: "If you cannot find a man to teach you moral instruction, remain silent, lest you speak folly." Because the tongue is extremely light in speaking, one must take great care to "weigh down" the tongue to keep it from speaking. An abundance of words is like a heavy burden, and the heaviness of an abundance of words is greater than that of an abundance of silence. And if one hears his friend speaking, he should keep quiet until the other finishes, for (Mishlei 18:13): "If one answers before he has heard, it is folly to him and shame." One who is accustomed to silence is saved from many transgressions: from flattery, from levity, from slander, from falsehood, and from insults. For if one shames and insults him, if he answers him, he will receive a double portion [in return]. And thus did the sage say: I hear the bad thing and I keep quiet." They asked him, "Why?" He answered: "If I answer my insulters, I am afraid I will hear insults worse than the first." And he said: "When the fool contends with the sage, and the sage keeps quiet, this is a great rejoinder against the fool." For the fool is more distressed by the silence of the sage then if the sage would answer him. And about this it is written (ibid.26:4): "Do not answer the fool according to his folly."
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