We’re all familiar with the cell-phone warning at the beginning of a movie. “Silence is Golden”, they say. But in truth- silence is nothing, by definition. It would be bad, annoying, or distracting if there was not silence- but no one’s handing out rewards if your cell phone stays quiet!
Yet, we see an interesting verse in this week’s Parsha: ““and no dog shall whet its tongue (bark)” (Shmos 11:7). The Midrash explains that the dogs were rewarded for this. We’re told that when we find improperly slaughtered meat, we shall specifically throw it to dogs (Shmos 22:31). But why? What did they do? They did nothing!
Sometimes doing nothing is befitting reward. Depending on context and expectation, one who exercises restraint can be the greatest actor of all.
Many times we feel compelled to think that in order to be good we have to do good. Perhaps because we live in a tangible world, we view action as reward-able, and non-action as nothing. What we can learn from the dogs of Egypt, however, is that sometimes the right thing is nothing. You won’t get written up in the newspapers, but the ultimate Ledger -the only one that truly matters- will certainly take note.