Sh'tikah/Thoughtful speech - Shtikah is often interpreted as silence. But the meaning here is not silence, it is thoughtful speech. That means that we hold our speech inside our heads until we determine whether or not it will benefit us or be of value to others. Optimally, it will benefit both. Meaningful speech is not telling someone else what to do or offering advice. That type of one-way dialogue is rarely fulfilling for the provider of information or the receiver. The most meaningful speech supports another to explore a situation more deeply or view a different perspective. The most meaningful speech is an invitation to journey, whether that is in a business or a family situation. When you are part of that kind of exchange, you can feel deep joy in connecting with another human being.

A closed mouth gathers no foot. (Anonymous)


VIDEO from IKAR (Los Angeles CA) on shmirat halashon:

Banners, Posters, Cartoons:

external image paul-noth-you-don-t-have-to-answer-that-new-yorker-cartoon.jpg

Poster from West End Synagogue (NY, NY) for sh'mirat halashon:

Congregation Beth Evergreen -
  1. Shtikah poster responses
Congregation Beth El
  1. March Sh'tikah Main Poster: March Sh'tikah Main Poster.pdf
  2. March Sh'tikah Conversation Poster: March Sh'tikah Conversation Poster.pdf
Congregation B'nai Keshet



  • Before you open your mouth, be silent and reflect: “What benefit will my speech bring me or others?” Rabbi Menachem Mendel Lefin of Satanov, Cheshbon haNefesh
  • "I have much more experience than I have written there, more than I will, more than I can write. In silence we must wrap much of our life, because it is too fine for speech, because also we cannot explain it to others, and because somewhat we cannot yet understand." Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson in His Journals June 11, 1840 p. 240


Pesach, Silence, and Mindful Speech (Rabbi Sam Feinsmith, Chicagoland Jewish High School):

Taking Responsibility for the Words we Speak (R. Robert Nosancuk, Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple:
Adrienne Rich on "Women and Honor: Some Notes on Lying" (from On Lies, Secrets and Silence):


Elohai, N'tzor, D.Maseng - from JTS DAY OF LEARNING


"Silence II" by Elaine Maria Upton
"Words" by Dana Gioia:

Focus Phrases:

Shtikah - Chicagoland Jewish High School Focus Phrase Reminders

מָוֶת וְחַיִּים בְּיַד לָשׁוֹן Death and life are in the power of the tongue -Proverbs 18:21
סְיָג לַחָכְמָה - שְׁתִיקָה Silence is a fence for wisdom -Pirkei Avot 3:13

Lesson Plans:

Shetikah and Shemirat Halashon - Chicagoland Jewish High School Middot Minyan Lesson Plans
Shtikah and Shmirat Halashon lesson sheets for retreat, Bet Haverim, Atlanta GA:

General Material:

  1. NYU Shtikah
  2. Congregation B'nai Jacob Powerpoint
  3. Congregation B'nai Keshet
    1. Shtikah
  4. JCC of San Francisco
    1. Shtikah.docx
  5. JTS
    1. Elohai, N'tzor, D.Maseng Elohai N'tzor Maseng.pdf
    2. JTS DAY OF LEARNING - Panelist Guidelines.doc
  6. Congregation Beth Evergreen
    1. Thoughts on silence
    2. session 4 silence and speech at seder
  7. Congregation Har Hashem
    1. Agenda for Chug Session 3 Right Speec
  8. Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
    1. Speech is one of the defining features of humanity. It is a powerful tool that creates connections. “Have a wonderful day!” or “So nice to see you!” It only takes a few words. At a deeper level, speech enables us to reveal our innermost feelings and our shared objectives.
      But speech can also be very destructive. In a moment of frustration or anger, we can wound someone to the quick; we can gossip or slander and ruin someone’s reputation. Sometimes, in a loving effort to be helpful, we say the wrong thing and make matters worse. And there is a strain of North American culture that equates honesty with criticism—“telling it like it is.”
      Often enough, silence may prove to be the holiest response. “I hear you” may be what is needed. We don’t need to fix a friend’s problem or have all the answers. We don’t even need to share similar experiences. What is needed is for us to be there, fully present and supportive, sharing the perplexity or pain. Often our first responses are not the ones grounded in wisdom.
      When we do speak, we would do well to be aware of our objective. Is this the right moment to voice a criticism or make a suggestion? Perhaps what is called for is what Rabbi Nahman of Braslav called “divrei hizzuk” (words of encouragement). He encouraged his followers to speak only words of encouragement to one another.
      And when we have the urge to speak badly of a third person (lashon hara), we should refrain. Are we doing this in order to build a rapport with our conversation partner at the expense of the third? There are more wholesome ways to build a rapport. Are we doing it out of anger? Anger will subside, but the words we’ve spoken cannot be recalled. Maimonides teaches that all three people (the speaker, the listener and the subject) are damaged by lashon hara. Better to be silent until we regain our equilibrium.
  9. Temple Beth Sholom
    1. Bulletin article: shtikah shmirat halashon bulletin
    2. Parent-child PPT: SHTIKAH
  10. Temple Sholom
    1. The Tikkun Middot Project Adar Silence Thoughtful Speech