Is there anything wrong with me having a conversation with my aunt or my female cousin?
Our sages tell us אל תרבה שיחה עם האשה – “Don’t talk too much with women” (Avos 1:5). So, if it’s necessary to speak for the sake of one’s kinship, so he should say whatever is necessary and that’s all. Exactly how much he should say, how long he should talk, that I can not tell you. The circumstances must dictate those details.
But you should always keep in mind this principle of the chachomim. Nobody is too smart to outsmart the chachomim. If they said that, then you can be sure that it’s based on insight and on experience without end. So let’s be smart and obey them because that’s the way for us to be successful in our lives.
And therefore, when a man accosted Bruriah, the wife of Rabbi Meir, and he said to her “What is the way by which I can get to Lud?” So she said to him, “Foolish fellow! You’re wasting words when speaking to a woman?! Didn’t the Sages teach that you shouldn’t speak superfluous words with a woman? You should have said: באיזה ללוד – “Whence to Lud?” In Hebrew that’s only two words. And so, she rebuked him (Eiruvin 53b).
That’s not because we are opposed to ladies. Only that we are opposed to ourselves – to our own weaknesses. We have to know that our Sages are better friends than we are to ourselves. And if they tell us not to talk to women too much, you can be sure that it’s good advice.
And it applies to women as well. Women shouldn’t talk too much to men. Men shouldn’t talk too much to women. And let me tell you something else. Men shouldn’t talk too much to men, and women also shouldn’t talk too much to women either. It’s good advice all around to keep your mouth closed. But as much as women shouldn’t talk to women, to men they should talk even less.
Now of course, there are exceptions. Sometimes it’s important; sometimes it has to be done. But you’re not the big talmid chochom to make those decisions for yourself.
TAPE # 48 (January 1975)