It was quoted to me years ago from mishnah brura, but I cannot find it there now.

I am familiar with the line in Avot "no better guard for wisdom than silence" // that is not exact.

Guidance and references are appreciated.

(And I acknowledge that the friend who told me of this wisdom may have himself misattributed it, or in the many years I misremember the attribution.)

2 Answers 2


That doesn't sound like something that would be written in the Mishna Brura but the Orchas Tzadikim chapter 21 says:

וְאָמַר הֶחָכָם: כְּשֶׁאֲנִי מְדַבֵּר – הוּא מוֹשֵׁל בִּי, כִּי אִם אֲנִי מְדַבֵּר אֶל הָאָדָם דָּבָר שֶׁאֵינוֹ הָגוּן – אוֹתוֹ הַדִּבּוּר מוֹשֵׁל בִּי, וּמַצְרִיכֵנִי הִכָּנַע לְפָנָיו וּלְבַקֵּשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ מְחִילָה. וּכְשֶׁאֵינִי מְדַבֵּר – אֲנִי מוֹשֵׁל מִלְּאוֹמְרוֹ וּמִלְּהַסְתִּירוֹ

The wise man said, When I speak, my speech rules over me,( for when I utter something inappropriate about someone , that utterance rules over me and forces me to beg forgiveness ), but when I do not speak I rule over whether I want to say it or whether I want to conceal it.


The International Churchill Society attributes a very similar quote to Sir Winston Churchill.

We are the masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.

Attributed to Winston Churchill (cited in Langworth, Churchill: In His Own Words). Dozens of other web sites also attribute this quote to Churchill.

Not the Mishnah Berurah nor indeed a Jewish source, I freely acknowledge.


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