Silence is defined as quietness, not speaking, ignoring something. Jewish perspective, and more specifically, Mussar perspective tells us something slightly different. We are not ignoring anything when we are silent; we are intentionally silent so that we can carefully listen and hear. Jewish values for children
We all can benefit from silence at times; silence from technology, silence from social interactions, silence from all that distracts us. In silence we can begin to listen to greater things like our hearts and our souls. Jewish values for children
Both silence and speech are powerful devices that are not necessarily good or bad in of themselves. There are times when we should purposefully and courageously not be silent, for example, if we need to stand up to defend another from injustice or harm. For all of us there are times when we speak and our speech does not benefit others or may even cause harm to others. We recall, especially from childhood years, how damaging and painful words can sometimes be.
When should we teach our children to practice the middah (value) of silence?
When they are going to say something that will hurt another person’s feelings. Jewish values for children
When they are going to say something that will hurt another person’s reputation. Jewish values for children
When they don’t know what to say. (If a friend is sad or upset just being with them is the most important thing.) Jewish values for children
When it’s their turn to listen. (Silence is important to being a good listener.)
When they need to pay attention, to learn, to think, or be calm. (When we are silent we can reflect.) Jewish values for children
Help your children look for all five of these opportunities for silence and practice them. Model a reflective pause before speaking so your children can learn to do the same. To practice use only positive words when communicating about a situation or person. Practice keeping silent when harmful speech comes to mind. Listen to others more than speaking. Remember, speech is good when it is helpful to another. With practice we can learn when it is best to speak and when it is best to remain silent. Jewish values for children
The Mussar For Children Curriculum integrates Jewish values into the classroom and connects those values with activities completed at school and at home. Children learn through puppets, songs, activities, and practice. Teachers receive lesson plans, activities, book lists, and articles for school newsletters. Parents receive communication that explains the middah that their children are learning about, along with relevant book lists and activities that can be done at home to further reinforce the value. Jewish values for children
Mussar for Children was created by Michelle Princenthal in partnership with The Mussar Institute. It is the only values for children curriculum of its kind geared specifically for young children. Jewish values for children
All materials and content are copyrighted.
©2013 Michelle Princenthal
©2015 The Mussar Institute
Jewish values for children