Rebuilder Series: Listen Before You Leap . . . to the Wrong Conclusion.
Good Morning Everybody,
In this week’s Torah portion, Moshe recounts many different events that took place during our 40 year sojourn in the wilderness. He informs the Jewish people that when he appointed the nation’s judges many years before, he commanded those judges as follows: “Listen among your brothers and judge righteously between a man and his brother or his disputant.” (Deuteronomy 1:16)
Rashi calls our attention to the Hebrew word used for “listen”: “shamoa”. He points out that this word is written in the “ongoing present tense.” Which means the word “listen” is really more accurately translated as, “Be listening.” The judges mustn’t just listen, but they should, “be listening.” They must remain completely attentive, which makes a lot of sense, because if they were to start to hypothesize while one of the litigants was speaking, they could miss important details and could come to the wrong conclusion.
Isn’t this wonderful guidance for us as well? Even though we may not have a career in justice, we are constantly judging. And I don’t mean that in a negative sense. Evaluating, assessing and judging information is an important part of life. However, when it comes to discussing certain topics with people, how often do we put judging before listening? We can literally tune the other person out because we’re already mentally preparing a rebuttal. They’re trying to make their point and we’re busy drafting 11 reasons why they’re “wrong.” Sometimes we don’t even wait for them to finish speaking before we dive in.
It’s interesting to note that the word used for “judge” in the above verse is NOT written in the same “ongoing present tense” like the word “listen” is. The verse states, “Be listening”, but it doesn’t say “be judging!” Yet that’s precisely what we do! We’re actively judging instead of actively listening. And we know all too well how that turns out.
So how do we overcome our tendency to jump ahead and formulate 5 answers while the other person is talking? Perhaps there’s a clue written in the verse itself! It says, “Be listening among your brothers and judge righteously…” Perhaps that’s it– the words “YOUR BROTHERS!’ When we view the person we’re talking to as our BROTHER, or our SISTER…. someone we feel a strong connection to, then the love we feel will motivate us to listen attentively! We won’t want to interrupt or tune them out; we have too much respect for them! We’ll sincerely care about what they have to say.
Now, I was going to sign off right here, but then something important dawned on me. There are people in our lives that we do indeed love, but we still don’t listen attentively to them! So what’s the deal? Well, I think the deal is that this could be a great wake up call for us to work on improving in this area. Perhaps it would help if we reminded ourselves when speaking to our loved ones how much we truly love them and to tap into that love. That emotionalconnection can transform the entire conversation. Because when we bring that bond to the surface, we’ll be naturally inclined to listen attentively and give them our full attention.
May Hashem help us to become better listeners, and help us to feel greater love towards those we already love, as well as greater love towards all of our fellow Jews.
Have a sensational day everybody,
Keep on Building!