The Power of Listening By Rabbi Ari Kayser

July 17th 2017

Listening is perhaps the most underrated function of the modern age. Let's face it, we have largely done away with listening altogether. Instead we focus on our own consumption: food, clothes, holidays, movies, fill in the blank. Self-gratifying consumption denies us the opportunity to listen.

The art of listening requires one to step out of their immediate sense of self and become open to "otherness". Contained within the act of listening lies a deep vulnerability in that we are opening ourselves up to an outside influence, one that we did not choose and cannot control. But without this tool there is no room for sharing, no room for connection, and no room for relationship.

Perhaps this is why the eternal mantra of the Jewish people is "Listen" (Shema).

Listening is the prerequisite for relationship. It is a muscle that we can train, a sense that we can nurture. But truly listening requires a desire to do so, and a will to build a sense of understanding.

Listening is different to seeing. Sight is fixed outside of ourselves, sound is constructed within ourselves. Sight is imposed, sound is composed.

Learning to listen and hear the dialogue spoken between the lines, the music between the noise, is one of life's greatest challenges. With it we can enter a beautiful hidden world of subtlety and nuance, hope and fear, wisdom and truth.


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