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.