Rav Avigdor Miller on Pirkei Avos and Carnegie



Would you recommend a Dale Carnegie course?


Would I recommend a course that teaches the Dale Carnegie system for dealing with people and for successful living?

I don’t recommend anything that’s not in Torah.

If you want to know what I recommend, I would recommend a Pirkei Avos course.

However, this I’m going to tell you.  That it’s a great pity that people are not in the frame of mind to appreciate Pirkei Avos.  Some people, after reading Dale Carnegie are stirred to the recognition that all this is found someplace else and even better.  And they discover that Pirkei Avos was saying it all the time.  So it could be if it’s necessary to make such a roundabout course to come back home again, maybe it’s worthwhile. But there’s no question that Pirkei Avos is the course to take.

If you’ll take one statement of Pirkei Avos; I’ll choose one at random. חָכָם אֵינוֹ מְדַבֵּר בִּפְנֵי מִי שֶׁהוּא גָדוֹל מִמֶּנּוּ – A wise man doesn’t open his mouth in the presence of somebody who is bigger than him.  Now just take those words and think them to their logical consequence. It means you have to keep your mouth shut all your life.  Do you know why?  Because you’re speaking in the presence of Somebody who is bigger than you are.  Much bigger.

It says that in Koheles.  In Koheles it says, “Don’t be in a hurry to talk, כי אלקים בשמים ואתה על הארץ – because Hashem is in the heaven.” So if you’ll study that properly, you’re going to learn to keep your mouth closed.

It’s a great thing if people learn how to understand maamarei Chazal and how to apply them.  And you wouldn’t need anything that the umos ha’olam have.  They have nothing that we don’t have a thousand times better.

TAPE # 414 (August 1982)