the Igeret HaRamban starts off:

"תִּתְנַהֵג תָּמִיד לְדַבֵּר כָּל דְּבָרֶיךָ בְּנַחַת, לְכָל אָדָם וּבְכָל עֵת, וּבַזֶּה תִּנָּצֵל מִן הַכַּעַס"

what does the word "b'nachat" mean in this context. does it mean to speak "calmly" or "gently", etc.. i.e. to just speak in a non-angry manner or more than that, to speak in a "gentle" tone.

  • " does it mean to speak "calmly" or "gently", etc.. i.e. to just speak in a non-angry manner or more than that, to speak in a "gentle" tone?" So the question is whether it means gentle or gentle?
    – mevaqesh
    May 15, 2016 at 5:41
  • @mevaqesh calmly i.e. non-angry. versus gentle which is like "nice" tone. like when speaking to a small child or some other translation. has the darkness creature stuck again a commentless downvote?
    – ray
    May 15, 2016 at 11:01
  • I dont think the word בנחת has an exact technical meaning. Like every word, it has a range of implications. Given that Rambam chose to use the word, I doubt he intended one particular subset of the definition over another. Had he, he would have specified.
    – mevaqesh
    May 15, 2016 at 14:39

3 Answers 3


Divre Chachamom Benachat Nishmaym. Without shouting.

Kohelet 9, 17

דִּבְרֵ֣י חֲכָמִ֔ים בְּנַ֖חַת נִשְׁמָעִ֑ים מִזַּעֲקַ֥ת מוֹשֵׁ֖ל בַּכְּסִילִֽים:‏


רש"י בנחת נשמעים. מקובלים הם לבריות ‏
People pleased to accept.


אף כי ידבר בנחת מבלי זעקה, המה נשמעים ומקובלים. בנחת. ‏
רוצה לומר בשפלות קול‏
in a low voice, after all, people are listening.

The Rambam seems to paraphrase this verse.

See a very beautyful Kohelet Raba. I Egypt, the demographic decline was beginning because the Bet Din of Amram that ordered Prishut Derech, not the threats of Par'oh. See a related topic here

  • so you interpret is as "calm" voice. it's usually translated as "gentle" whatever that means. also how do you know this is the meaning in that verse?
    – ray
    May 14, 2016 at 21:47
  • @ray See I have edited the answer.
    – kouty
    May 14, 2016 at 21:57
  • How does any if this answer the question?
    – mevaqesh
    May 15, 2016 at 5:45
  • @mevaqesh this answer by the comparison with Zaakat Moshel. non angry vs. Angry right?
    – kouty
    May 15, 2016 at 5:55
  • are there other possibilities besides the metzudot? usually it is translated as "gentle"
    – ray
    May 15, 2016 at 10:56

Like nachas ruach a pleasant smell It means pleasant


Ramban writes: "speak ALL your words (lit. also: "your things") with Nachas...". It's obvious that nice and neutral words are to be spoken nicely. But what if you have something to say that the other will not ostensibly wish to hear. It can be a challenge to say such things (instead of just being silent about them) in a palatable manner.

Being silent brings its own issues, as when dialogue dies, so does much of the relationship.

If, rather, you can say all that you have that is meaningful in your heart, to everyone at any time, in a way that is safe, non-threatening, and hear-able, you will have good relationships. You will be saved from ANGER, violence, and revenge which stem from having stuff to say and not being able to say it.

Gehinnom, possibly in this world, as well as the next world, comes from a life of being unable to speak up in a Nachas way. One tends to invent nonsense and see oneself as a victim. Rather, you must commit

  • to not creating and then harbouring resentment by just being silent - "cast out evil in your heart"
  • but rather speaking up appropriately in a very acceptable way - "Practise always to say all your words to each person with Nachas"

There are many skills involved in speaking with Nachas - a pleasant tone, kind words, and a considerate attitude are important but not always enough. There are many more skills needed too to deliver words with Nachas so that they are heard.

The greatest measure of Nachas is in the result, do you get the valuable thing you want, or agree to forgo it, and still have a good relationship? As it says: "Practise always to say all your words with Nachas, to each person, and at all times, and through this you will be saved from ANGER." So saying things with Nachas is supposed to save you from relationship blow-ups.

The rest of the Letter describes more details on how to do this.

The tone is irrelevant. However, usually if you're really creating a pleasant feeling, your tone will sound nice to the receiver. And by the way, a pleasant feeling is over the long term, not just saying sweet things in the moment to distract them or sweeten them. It involves listening to them too.

The added proof for this is the words "Kol Devorecha", all your words, or, all your things, or, all your issues. The things that matter to you should be spoken about in a considerate, meaningful, helpful fashion. Obviously in such cases you will not be doing all the talking, but as needed there will be give-and-take with the other person.

You are expected to communicate pleasantly and successfully, neither withholding your opinion to close down dialogue, nor dominating angrily. Nachas means confidence, humility, understanding, patience, unravelling, kindness, so you can solve things between you. It's not about the tone of voice (though that may likely be pleasant) but about the tone of the discussion. Which involves the other human being.

  • thank you for the answer. just to clarify, how do you render the word "nachas". "calm"? i.e non angry tone, or perhaps "gentle", i.e. soft tone. or maybe something else
    – ray
    May 15, 2016 at 10:59
  • words that creates a pleasant feeling in the receiver. and it's so much more than the tone or choice of words, but it depends on the come-from of the speaker
    – RG1
    May 15, 2016 at 11:13
  • but the Ramban says speak your words b'nachas. which implies it is going on the words not the receiver
    – ray
    May 15, 2016 at 11:21
  • No, he says "kol deverecha b'nachas lechol odom uvechol ais" which can be part of what the adjective qualifies. As in, you can't call words "nice" unless it reaches them as pleasantness. And, as everyone knows, you can say nice words to someone and they'll still feel hated and hurt. Because, for example, you ignored their needs. So it can't logically refer to tone of voice. Imagine for a minute they say "I need a life-saving ring from over there, please throw it to me" and you smile and say "sorry, I'm just a bit busy right now". Would the Ramban agree that you have spoken "B'nachas"? No.
    – RG1
    May 15, 2016 at 11:42
  • so it can be any tone as long as it creates a pleasant feeling? thanks
    – ray
    May 15, 2016 at 11:44

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