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The Soft Tongue

The Soft Tongue

Ethics 1:17


Shimon (the son of Rabban Gamaliel) said; “All my days I grew up amongst the chachamim (Sages), and I never found anything better for the body than silence.” (Avot 1:17)

"He had his cooks make some of the tounge soft and tender…"
"He had his cooks make some of the tounge soft and tender…"
Rabbi Yehudah wanted to teach his students to be very careful how they spoke to one another.

What did he do?

He called his cooks and told them to prepare a big meal for everyone, at which the main dish would be tongue.

Now the tongue of a cow is very tough. When the cow is alive, she uses her tongue to eat all kinds of sharp, pointy grasses, full of thorns and thistles.

To cook tongue properly, you first have to soak it a long time, and then cook it for many hours until it gets soft.

Rabbi Yehudah had his cooks make some of the tongue properly, soft and tender. The rest he left half-cooked. It was very tough and hard.

Which pieces would you have wanted? The soft ones or the tough hard ones? Of course, all the students wanted the soft tasty pieces of meat.

“Learn your lesson carefully,” said Rabbi Yehudah to them. “Nobody here wanted the tough, hard tongue. Everybody wanted the soft tender pieces. It’s just the same when you speak to others. Remember, a soft tongue is the best. Always use gentle words and kind speech. And if someone is upset with you, do not answer in angry tones. Remember what Shlomo HaMelech said,  'A gentle answer turns away anger.'"

Courtesy of Tzivos Hashem and the archives of The Moshiach Times children's magazine. If you would like to subscribe to The Moshiach Times, click here to contact Tzivos Hashem.
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Ethics of the Fathers is a tractate of the Mishna that details the Torah's views on ethics and interpersonal relationships. Enjoy insights, audio classes and stories on these fascinating topics.