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There is an often-quoted saying that

things that come from the heart enter the heart,

i.e., if something is said sincerely, the listener knows, and if it is said insincerely, the listener knows that, too.

In Hebrew, it is quoted as:

דברים היוצאים מן הלב נכנסים ללב

or

דברים היוצאים מן הלב נכנסים אל הלב.

Many sources (ex. Kedushas Levi, Vayigash 2; Sefas Emes, Shoftim 7:3; Likutei Ma'amarim, Festivals 11:2; Noam Eliezer, Haazinu 2:1, et. al.) quote this as "Chazal say," but I have yet to find the original Ma'amar. Does anyone know where it can be found?

  • While the conclusion of both expressions look like the mean the same thing, I sense that there's some nuance between נכנסים ללב and נכנסים אלהלב Offhand, do any of the sources you listed explain this? – DanF Jun 27 '17 at 21:21
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    unfortunately I don't think it can be found. I believe the earliest source we have is Sefer Hayashar - sefaria.org/… Interestingly, he doesn't quote it in the name of Chazal. – Jay Jun 27 '17 at 21:24
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    @Chaim he's likely referring to the source I mentioned in my earlier comment - the sefer hayashar – Jay Jun 27 '17 at 23:44
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    @DonielF The Sefaria page - sefaria.org/Sefer_HaYashar?lang=bi - says the author is unknown but is probably not Rabbenu Yonah as S.H.'s ideas contradict his. It also notes that it has been frequently attributed to R.T. - so even if he didn't actually write it, it's quite possible that the Shelah attributed it to him. – Jay Jun 28 '17 at 0:29
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    @DonielF Even if they're correct that it was ('probably') written after R.T.'s death, the Shelah could still have attributed it to him, as many others did. I'm not sure what your point is. – Jay Jun 28 '17 at 0:34
11

The source is Moshe Ibn Ezra (1055-1140, not to be confused with the better known R. Avraham Ibn Ezra), in his sefer Shirat Yisroel. The footnote in the edition linked here1 says that his source was מנאני אלאדב כרך א סימן ל"ג, who quotes עמאר בן עבד אלקיס.

In personal correspondence to Isaac Moses, Rabbi Joshua Dachman-Soled, a scholar of Judaism in Islamic lands, pointed out that עמאר בן עבד אלקיס is Amir ibn Abd al-Qays, an early (7th Century, CE) Islamic figure, and that מנאני אלאדב is a book of Arabic quotations that can be found here. According to R' Dachman-Soled,

The quote in Arabic actually has a second half! The full saying is: "When a word comes from the heart, it enters the heart. And when it leaves the tongue [only], it does not pass through the ears."


1. Translation of the text from Arabic to Hebrew and footnotes by Bentzion Halper in 1924.

  • prog.co.il/forum/… – mevaqesh Jul 4 '17 at 20:01
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    I emailed a friend who knows about this stuff to learn who עמאר בן עבד אלקיס was and added his response here. Since you're citing the footnote, I went and looked at the title page to see who wrote it, and added that information, too. But now, a quibble: It looks like Shirat Yisroel was written by Moshe Ibn Ezra in Arabic, and the Hebrew text before is a 20th-Century CE translation by Bentzion Halper. If so, any Hebrew uses of this phrase that predate Halper may indicate an alternative Hebrew source. – Isaac Moses Jul 5 '17 at 16:08
  • @Isaac-Moses thanks for the added info. You mention the Arabic quote has a second half, yet the linked page of Shirat Yisroel does indeed quote it, albeit in a slightly changed form. – robev Jul 5 '17 at 17:27
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This site says the source is a mystery. Despite the fact that it is oft cited as "Chazal say", neither the Mishanah nor Talmud cite this phrase anywhere.

The writer surmises:

that the phrase is an application of the principle taught by King Solomon in Proverbs: "As water [reflecting] the face is to the face, so a man's heart is to [his fellow] man." Meaning that the human heart intuits the emotions of others, and thus if one speaks with an open heart, the heart of the listener will be open as well.

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