Wednesday, June 06, 2007

It Will Be Heard

One of the statements of Hillel in Ancestors' Chapters [of Ethics] is:

אל תאמר דבר שאי אפשר לשמוע שסופו להישמע


I always understood this to mean:

Do not say something that cannot be heard —
for in the end, it will be heard!


In other words, stay away from passing on secrets. If you don't want something to be known, don't say it. "Loose lips sink ships." Or as Qohelet said:

גַּם בְּמַדָּעֲךָ מֶלֶךְ אַל תְּקַלֵּל
וּבְחַדְרֵי מִשְׁכָּבְךָ אַל תְּקַלֵּל עָשִׁיר
כִּי עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם יוֹלִיךְ אֶת הַקּוֹל
וּבַעַל כְּנָפַיִם יַגֵּיד דָּבָר

Even in your mind, do not curse a king;
and in your bedroom do not curse the rich —
for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound,
and a wingèd creature will tell the matter.



But now I just checked out Emet/Truth's post on Rambam on Incorporeality, which includes a translation that goes as follows:

Do not make a statement that cannot be easily understood
on the ground that it will be understood eventually.


Now, this translation fits better with the text as found at the Mechon Mamre link above, which has וסופו להישמע ("and its end [is] to be heard"), as opposed to the version I've usually seen, שסופו להישמע ("that its end [is] to be heard"). A completely different meaning — not a warning that "loose lips sink ships," but instead a pedagogical point relevant to everyone, but especially to teachers, rabbis, scholars and public officials. Never assume comprehension on the part of your audience. In the educational sphere, we call this the necessity for formative assessment. As you go through your lesson plan, you need to make sure that the students are right there with you and haven't been left behind. Similarly with a speech, although speeches are generally much less interactive than a classroom lesson. You need to make sure that the people listening actually understand what it is you're saying. Or as Avtalyon said somewhere else in Pirqey Avot: חכמים, היזהרו בדבריכם. Sages, be wary of your words.

9 Comments:

Blogger The Anti-Semite said...

Cool! I know someone who needs that advice! ;-)

Where did you find this girsa?

6/07/2007 5:28 PM  
Blogger The Anti-Semite said...

BTW, why do you hate spiderman so much?

6/07/2007 5:30 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I hate Spiderman?

6/07/2007 6:16 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Which one? the וסופו one? It's at Mechon Mamre, so wherever they got theirs from.

6/07/2007 6:16 PM  
Blogger The Anti-Semite said...

"I hate Spiderman?"

LOL, two beers if you figure it out!

THX for source. BTW, just in case this was misunderstood (I phrased it this way purposedly - for sake of joke) when I said "someone needs this advice" I was referring to myself.

6/08/2007 9:41 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

OH, i get it. ha.

this is why i hate spiderman.

6/08/2007 9:54 AM  
Blogger The Anti-Semite said...

The gall of the hobblin' king! You got it right!!! green background + goblin... Should I expedite the beer or bring it myself? (tho' I hate crossinig the Hudson, since I do it anyway for work, I might as well drive a bit further in...) oh yeah, what kind? Czech and German are the best. To each his own tho'.

6/10/2007 7:02 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

unfortunately, i may have to request that you trade in the beer for some other prize; i'm not a big fan of beer, or most alcohols for that matter. they all just taste like burning to me. beer tastes like rotting burning. :-P the closest i've gotten to beer is hard cider. i can stand that.

6/10/2007 8:44 AM  
Blogger The Anti-Semite said...

OK whatever you like. I don't really see beer as an alcoholic beverage -althoug it certainly costs like one. I can't stand soda, and after a while I get bored of water. Generally I become fleischig fairly early in the morning, so coffe is usu. not an option. I like apple cider (no alcohol) or OJ - straight from the orange rather than the cardboard. But nothing beats a good beer or twon when I get home.

But if you want coke or orange juice, it's fine with me. Sorry, utube is blocked here. Will have to wait 'till optimum "krats zich zusammen' and install cable in the house. I anyway prefer Beavis & Butt-Head to the Simpsons.

6/10/2007 11:00 AM  

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