Friday, January 10, 2020

Silence: the Reward for Attending a House of Mourning - #DafYomi Ber. 6a-b

Some thoughts on today's Daf Yomi, Berakhot 6a-b. (Daf Yomi means "Daily Page," referring to a page from the Talmud. It's a practice of reading through/studying the entire Talmud, one page each day, from beginning to end. It takes about 7 and a half years, and a cycle just ended last week. I decided to start doing it this time around, with no promise that I'll finish it).
One topic is the reward one gains for doing various deeds, beginning with running to hear a rabbinic lecture. The one that struck me is the reward for going to a house of mourning: "אמר רב פפא: אגרא דבי טמיא - שתיקותא" - Rav Pappa said: the reward for attending a house of mourning is silence."
What does this mean? One commentator explains it from another passage: "Those offering consolation are not permitted to speak until the mourner opens his mouth" (Moed Katan 28b).
So sitting with the mourner without speaking, with the person whom grief has silenced, until they are able to speak, to leave that condition of stillness and reenter the world of other people that is created through speech. Not to intrude onto silence with one's chattering words and self-concerns. But can the mourner escape from his or her silent world without a hand being extended by the would-be consoler? Must all the work be done by the mourner to restart the conversation? How to center speech in the silence of the mourner and reach into that person's grief without causing further pain.

1 comment:

  1. Actually, this is beautiful. There is nothing anyone can truly say to a mourner (so says me, a woman who lost her only daughter at 8 days old).