10. Every student whose attitudes are finely honed does not speak in front of anyone who is wiser than he, even if he never learned anything from him.
Q1: Is this a new category – “the student whose attitudes are finely honed”? If so, how is it defined?
YE: R does use this type of term in a few places (De’ot 2:7, Nedarim 13:23) and he seems to be indicating the ideal of the *metron ariston* (Golden Mean). It is generally defined by R (first three chapters of De’ot) as the exact middle between extremes in behavior and emotions. This is a huge oversimplification and that section of De’ot is highly recommended reading.
Q2: Is R saying that such students will not behave this way, and that it is symptomatic of “a finely honed character” – or that this is one of the criteria for being considered a student of such character?
YE: In De’ot 2:5, R develops the theme of “limited and quality speech” as a criterion for the ideal character; our Halakha may be an extension of that principle.
Rambam, Copyright (c) 1999 Project Genesis, Inc.