Shimon Says: Listen!

Shimon the son of Rabban Gamliel said: All my days have I grown up among the wise and I have not found anything better for a man than silence. Studying Torah is not the most important thing rather fulfilling it. Whoever multiplies words causes sin. – Pirkei Avot 1:17

Here I am on the Internet, multiplying words – the irony does not escape me.  We live in talky times. Nothing goes uncommented: Bruce Jenner, Nepal, Supreme Court, Hillary, Iran, Syria, Baltimore, Baltimore, Baltimore.  The news is rarely merely reported; it is interpreted, commented upon, analyzed. Multiplying words.

We talk, but we rarely listen. When we listen, we wish to comment. We want our news to be interactive, because we all have something to say.

But Shimon tells us, “Listen.” Be quiet and just listen, really listen.

Listening without comment is hard work. Listening and just taking it all in will exhaust most people. Listening and imagining the world of the person talking will make a strong woman want to lie down for a while.

Talk is, as they say, cheap. It is easy to have opinions. It is easy to tell others what they should do, ought to do, need to do. It is hard just to listen.

And yet recall the time someone listened, really listened, to you. Recall what a gift it is, just to listen.

If this post inspires you to listen, here’s a project for listening.


Image: A woman listening. (Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay )

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

7 thoughts on “Shimon Says: Listen!”

  1. Rabbi Ruth, Thank you for that article. As I read it, I felt I could identify with everything Ms. Blount was saying and all with my full attention. In High School I participated in many protests for equal rights for people of color because I believed in Dr. King’s message and those of his colleagues. I still do to this day. Why…because of the horrific treatment of treatment of my mother and her family in pre and post war Poland and likewise of my father’s family in Russia. The message rings loudly in my ears as i hear and read about the anti-semitic activities occurring around the world. We Jews, as a people share a mutual history as our neighbors of color here in the U.S. and we need to be cognizant of it. Our eyes and ears must be continually open to any sort of unethical treatment of our fellow man and woman and we must be a part an of action to change that treatment, not simply spewing passive words that do little to help alleviate the situation or cause of unrest. THERE NOW I AM MULTIPLYING MY WORDS!

    Shabbat Shalom.

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