WWOT – Weekly Words of Wisdom: Parashat Ha’azinu

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative JudaismThe Greek Philosopher Epicetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Yet, on Yom Kippur, there are so many in the litany of confessions which deal with missing the mark (sinning) in relation to speech.

However, in our Torah reading this Shabbat, Parashat Ha’azinu, we are reminded that we need to listen. We need to hear. Parashat Ha’azinu begins, “Give ear, O heavens, let me speak; Let the earth hear the words I utter.” (Deuteronomy 32:1) The name of the Torah reading, Ha’azinu, comes from the Hebrew word for ear, ozen. Immediately after repenting for the sins of our mouth, we are told we must give ear, translated literally, and then, since our Torah reading is written in a poetic style, it repeats that we must hear as well. There is a difference between listening and hearing. Hearing is simply the act of perceiving sound by the ear. If you are not hearing-impaired, hearing simply happens. Listening, however, is something you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words and sentences.

The greatest gift we can possibly give to someone else is the gift of listening to them. I believe that listening may happen with our ears, but, to truly listen to another human being, we must listen with our heart, our mind, our soul, our brain, our eyes, and, of course, our ears. I pray that, this Shabbat, we can all give the gift of listening to someone else, and receive that beautiful gift, as well. Shabbat Shalom.

WWOT, Weekly Words of Torah will be a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our new Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, presented in our “This Week @ Women’s League.” WWOT will provide meaningful thoughts related to the Weekly Torah Portion, an event on the Calendar, a Prayer, or something of Jewish interest, to inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women. If you have any particular interest in future topics, or want to send Rabbi Wolintz-Fields an email, you can contact her at ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org. Read previous Weekly Words of Torah here.