A Bisl Torah

Just listen

When we watched the rocket launch last week, my son remarked, “I wonder if the rocket is going to meet God.”

His curiosity has been with me all week. From beyond our own atmosphere, what kind of view does God have of earth? A blurring of reality, unable to differentiate between those who hate and those who are hated or a world in which human beings speak so loudly over each other, it is impossible to identify anything past the buzzing of ego and self-righteousness. I am not sure which view is better. My sense is that if God is watching, the Lord is disappointed, crying, praying that we will somehow discern a way forward without pushing others back.

So many people have mentioned, they wish they were the astronauts, given the gift of leaving this earth. While the sentiment resonates, we have been given the greatest blessings of all time: the gifts of life in this world, living with and learning from each other.

When I asked Black faith leaders what we should be doing right now, the response has been hard to hear: stop jumping to words like harmony and tranquility. Stop pretending that by next week, everything will be ok. Just stop.

Instead, Sh’ma. Just Listen.

Some of us have forgotten or perhaps, never learned how to listen. Not listening for the purposes of waiting to speak. That’s not listening. That’s waiting. Rather, listening in an effort to better humanity. Listening with the intent of being malleable, open, pliable enough to admit where we are wrong and whose voices deserve amplification.

Sh’ma. Listen to the struggle. Sh’ma. Listen to the pain. Sh’ma. Listen to the anger. Sh’ma. Listen to the cries. Sh’ma. Listen to a story that looks so vastly different from your own. Stop talking. Sh’ma. Just listen. And listen in a way you never have before. Know that listening does not mean inherent agreement. Listening conveys a willingness to hold someone else’s truth with consideration, thoughtfulness, and a realization that someone else’s truth impacts your own.

Maybe in listening with wide-open, broken, jagged hearts, we might gain a semblance of a world in which we are worthy to dwell.

My son wondered if the rocket was going up into space to meet God. But now, I wonder, do I live in a world in which God still wants to meet us?

Sh’ma. I vow to listen in a way in which my voice serves as a microphone for those that need to be heard. Sh’ma. I pledge to listen in a way that will lead to personal and communal learning and growing. Sh’ma. I promise to listen because I refuse to live in a world that God, our Creator, can’t even recognize.

May we each be worthy of the gift of living in this blessed world.
Sh’ma Koleinu—God, this time, help us to hear each other.

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