Thursday, January 18, 2007


I knew a rabbi who was oftentimes purposefully vague and would say things that didn't make a whole lot of sense on the face of things. It would cause you to think about things, such as "does that mean that he knows about ..." or "Does he want me to get more information about ..."

This type of vagueness can be very frustrating at times for the receiver, but for the speaker it can accomplish exactly what you want without the need to express it.

This is not always a good thing. For example, my children tend to say things like, "I am thirsty" instead of asking for a drink. I explain to them that when they want something they have to be more direct and take it to the next logical conclusion. So I say to them. "You are thirsty, is there a way to fix that problem?

However at times vagueness can be very good. For examples, there are topics that you might not want to discuss before the person has a basic understanding of the topic. A vague comment will cause the person who received it to check into the subject and think about it. Then the person will be prepared for a more direct conversation later on.


Rolling hills of green said...

who are you preparing for a conversation?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't pirke avos say something about not being vague? I don't remember exactly, but something about not saying something now on the premise that it will be understood later? I "vaguely" remember that.

rockofgalilee said...

You are referring to the 2nd perek 4th or 5th mishna.
I don't believe that is talking about being vague, I think that is talking about where what you say can have a completely different meaning, and only after time is it realized that there was a double meaning behind what you said.