Off the Pulpit

Listen To This!

The mitzvah is not to blow the shofar, but to listen to it. That may be because only one person can blow and many listen, but I would like to think that it is teaching the Jewish version of why we have one mouth but two ears. Because as much as we need to say things, we need to hear things even more.

We live in a culture that prizes self-expression. There are classes in creative writing, journaling, speaking, all the ways in which we can bring forth what is inside of us. But few and far between are those who instruct us in how to listen. The shofar reminds us that the greatest lessons have already been taught, the wisdom exists in the world, and the trick is not to reinvent but to discover. And we discover best by listening.

So as we listen to the shofar this year, may it be a spur to listening. The world offers a symphony of sounds and many wonderful words. Sh’ma — hear them, O Israel.