Minute 776: Empty Jug

David yelled out an answer before the teacher called on him.

“I prefer that everyone raise his hand and be recognized before blurting out an answer to my questions,” the teacher said. “And, by the way, that’s incorrect. Would someone else like to venture a guess?”

Waving his hand as he shouted out again, David offered another answer that showed his lack of understanding of the question. His classmates burst out laughing even before the teacher commented, “Some say silence is golden!”

David is one of those people who insist on saying something in all situations. His insecurity prompts him to make “noise” to cover up his weaknesses. It is very rare to spend a quiet moment with such a person.

There are other people who are quiet most of the time. Yet when one of these individuals does speak, all pay heed because his comment is probably an intelligent one. This confident person sees no need to impress by covering up insecurity with talk.

The Gemara says: “A coin in an empty jug makes a lot of noise and is silent in a container that is full” (Baba Metzia 85a). Speech, like all things in life, can be measured for quantity or quality. Brevity that’s to the point is a mark of intelligence. It’s said that when Rashbam, the grandson of Rashi, completed his commentary on the Torah, he brought it to his grandfather to review. Rashi took one look and rejected the hard work of his offspring. “It’s too long and so it must contain some things that are incorrect.” Rashbam started over from the beginning to write the brief commentary we have today.

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

And if even that [reciting Shema Yisrael] does not dissuade the yetzer hara, remind him of the day of death. The bottom line is that everyone is eventually going to have to face Hashem and give an accounting of his or her life. Surely, the pleasure that the yetzer hara is enticing the person with will pale in comparison to the pain that the person will bring on himself by disobeying Hashem. (Avi Shulman, Living Life to Its Fullest, p. 175)


Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He lectures to audiences all over the world. He has distributed over 500,000 recorded lessons free of charge. He is author of the book 1 Minute With Yourself: A Minute a Day to Self-Improvement, Sephardic Press, 2008.