Rav Avigdor Miller on Making Small Talk

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Q:
The Rav mentioned the importance of speaking as little as possible in order to concentrate our energies on the business of life, which is shleimus, perfection. Making small talk with a friend for a few minutes, is that also forbidden? 

A:
It depends. If that friend needs your words and you wish to cheer him up, then it’s a mitzvah. המפייסו בדברים  מתברך באחת עשרה –  “If you comfort a poor person with kind words you’ll be blessed with eleven brachos” (Bava Basra 9b). And so, of course, if you’re trying to comfort a fellow Jew, that’s what you have a mouth for, that’s part of your shleimus.

Now suppose your friend doesn’t need the words; but you need the words to cheer yourself up. That’s already a weakness. In order to raise your spirits you have to talk?! Even that however, if it’s necessary, it’s also permissible. It’s a weakness, but it’s necessary so you can do it.

So now we are learning that everything depends on what the results are going to be. If the result will be that you’ll be able to be more prepared to function properly, then you’re justified in certain things that are ordinarily to be avoided. Because as a general rule it’s better not to talk. לעולם ירבה אדם בשתיקה – “A person should try to produce silence” (Rambam Hilchos Dei’os 2:4). You hear that? To produce silence is an accomplishment!  A man should talk as little as possible. But suppose that the other party needs your words, or, worse comes to worse, if you yourself need those words, so say a few words in order to restore your feelings, your equilibrium, and then you get back to the business of life.
TAPE # E-13 (June 1995)