1

The beginning of the Igeres HaRamban says:

תִּתְנַהֵג תָּמִיד לְדַבֵּר כָּל דְּבָרֶיךָ בְּנַחַת, לְכָל אָדָם וּבְכָל עֵת, וּבַזֶּה תִּנָּצֵל מִן הַכַּעַס, שֶׁהִיא מִדָּה רָעָה לְהַחְטִיא בְּנֵי אָדָם. וְכֵן אָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ ז"ל (נדרים כב ע"א): כָּל הַכּוֹעֵס – כָּל מִינֵי גֵיהִנּוֹם שׁוֹלְטִים בּוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (קהלת יא י): "וְהָסֵר כַּעַס מִלִּבֶּךָ, וְהַעֲבֵר רָעָה מִבְּשָׂרֶךָ". וְאֵין "רָעָה" אֶלָּא גֵיהִנּוֹם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי טז ד): "וְגַם רָשָׁע לְיוֹם רָעָה".

Accustom yourself to always speak all of your words calmly, to every man and at every time. In doing so you will prevent your anger from flaring, which is a bad attribute in a man which may cause him to sin. And accordingly said our Rabbis, may their memories be a blessing: (Nedarim 22a) "Anyone who gets angry - all of Gehinnom holds sway over him, as it says: (Kohelet 11:10) 'And remove the anger from your heart, and take away the bad from your flesh', and 'bad' can only mean Gehinnom, as it says (Proverbs 16:4): 'And the sinner, he too, will have his day of bad'."

(Translation from Sefaria)

My question is: What does the Ramban mean when he uses the word בנחת? Does that mean you should never raise your voice? If so, should you not yell even while learning with a chavrusa?

  • Consider asking whether a person should raise his voice rather than asking what Ramban meant. The former can be answered based on the entire gamut of Jewish literature, while the latter is largely a guess what an individual writer meant. – mevaqesh Jan 16 '18 at 6:53
  • Note Rambam's Yesodei HaTorah 5:14 which similarly encourages speech to be b'nahat with everyone. The source is Yoma 86a which encourages דבורו בנחת עם הבריות, which is presumably Ramban had in mind when he penned this (assuming he is the author). | Given that all these contexts contrast this with anger, it seems likely that indeed one should not get angry with a havruta. Excited and angry are not the same. – mevaqesh Jan 16 '18 at 6:55
  • Indeed, Rambam writes that one must repent for getting angry (Teshuva 7:3). – mevaqesh Jan 16 '18 at 7:03
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    דברי חכמים בנחת נשמעים – kouty Jan 16 '18 at 7:23
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    @kouty That is an answer. – Avrohom Yitzchok Jan 16 '18 at 9:18
2

Speaking with Nachat has several implications. One is like the usage in Eruvin 83b which means with ease or gently. That when speaking harshly and abruptly, it startles or frightens the one you speak with.

אמר רב שניהן אסורין ושמואל אמר נותנין אותו לזה שבשלשול שלזה תשמישו בנחת ולזה תשמישו בקשה וכל דבר שתשמישו לזה בנחת ולזה בקשה נותנים אותו לזה שתשמישו בנחת

It also has a sense of speaking slowly and not rushing, like is seen from Brachot 56b. That when you speak with another, you should make the time for them.

הרואה סוס לבן בחלום בין בנחת בין ברדוף יפה לו אדום בנחת יפה ברדוף קשה

A third sense is that when talking with another, it should always be with an intention of giving pleasure and gratification to the other like is seen in Ketubot 95a. In other words, not seeking conflict.

גמ׳ וכי כתבה ליה מאי הוי והתניא האומר לחבירו דין ודברים אין לי על שדה זו ואין לי עסק בה וידי מסולקת הימנה לא אמר כלום הכא במאי עסקינן בשקנו מידה וכי קנו מידה מאי הוי תימא נחת רוח עשיתי לבעלי

And a fourth sense of speaking with Nachat is from the sense of humility, of lowing oneself, like in the expression ניחות דרגא. Similar to the usage in Shabbat 41a. It means that one should not hold oneself above someone else when talking with them. But rather from the same place, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Talking, communication is for the purpose of connecting with another.

איני והאמר ר' אבא אמר רב הונא אמר רב כל המניח ידיו כנגד פניו של מטה כאילו כופר בבריתו של אברהם אבינו לא קשיא הא כי נחית הא כי סליק כי הא דרבא שחי ר' זירא זקיף רבנן דבי רב אשי כי קא נחתי זקפי כי קא סלקי שחי

And acting in a way contrary to these qualities demonstrates intolerance of others which ultimately leads one to anger.

2

The only reference to בנחת in Tanach is in קהלת ט יז which reads

דִּבְרֵ֣י חֲכָמִ֔ים בְּנַ֖חַת נִשְׁמָעִ֑ים מִזַּֽעֲקַ֥ת מוֹשֵׁ֖ל בַּכְּסִילִֽים:

The words of the wise are heard [when spoken] softly, more than the shout of a ruler of fools

The “words of the wise” are to be “heard”; this must mean over the ambient volume where you are. They should be “softly” spoken i.e. just over the ambient volume.

Thus I understand the Ramban to mean that you should never raise your voice much over the ambient volume.

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