This Shabbat we begin reading the third book of the Torah–Vayikra–which means “And He called…” Who called whom? Clearly, God called to Moses. But Rashi suggests God was calling out to all of the Israelites: “The call went out and reached Moses’ ears, but the other Israelites did not hear it.” Why not? Too busy? Talking so much themselves, they didn’t pause to listen for the voice of God, as Moses did? Or, perhaps it’s because listening is one of the most difficult of human arts to master.We assume listening is easy, something we do automatically. But what most people do is “hear” and not “listen.” We hear the words, but we don’t really understand the feelings that are trying to be communicated.
To listen wisely, one must have a great deal of patience; have the ability to sit still and concentrate on what is being said; have the imagination to transcend the self, and see from someone else’s point of view.
Let us learn from one word in the Torah–that we must speak a little bit less and listen a little bit more. Let us work at developing the art of listening, for it is essential to living a better life.
-Rabbi David Vorspan, Rabbi-in-Residence