April 12, 2018 / 27 Nissan, 5778 • Parshat Shemini
Issue 503
Dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Miriam Friedman

Shimon his son said: All my days I grew up among the Sages and did not find anything better for the body than silence; not study but deed is the essential thing; and whoever engages in excessive talk causes sin.

Pirkei Avot 1:17

Rambam's Five Categories of Speech

1. Required Speech, such as the reading and study of Torah, a Biblical command.

2. Forbidden speech, such as false testimony, lies, gossip, curses, and vulgarity.

3. Repulsive Speech, that is neither beneficial not harmful, like most chatter of the masses about the news, the customs of such-and-such a king in his palace, the circumstances of the death of so-and-so, or how so-and-so became rich. The Sages called such speech "idle chatter" and the extremely pious strove to omit all such talk from their conversations. It was said of Rav that an idle comment never passed his lips all his life.

4. Desirable Speech, that inspires the soul toward higher ideals and discourages it from the reverse through stories and songs. Such speech includes the glorification of men of character and the disparagement of shallowness.

5. Permitted Speech, which is necessary for business, food and drink, clothing, etc. It is in this category that we are to minimize our words, since the other negative categories should be shunned entirely while the positive categories should be embraced.

From Kehot's

Pirkei Avot

Holtzberg Memorial Edition