Back when we were very young the teacher taught us that when Moses offered the Torah to the people of Israel, they answered, "We will do and we will listen." As with many stories, this story is indeed true but not perfect. The first time, when the people answered Moses, they only said "we will do". The people of Israel answer Moses - we will obey at any cost.
All those assembled answered as one, saying, “All that יהוה has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the people’s words to יהוה.
Enthusiastic and complete obedience has great power. It expresses loyalty and inner readiness to walk "through fire and water."
However, enthusiastic obedience lacks gentle listening. It lacks an internal and deep understanding of what is really required.
It is possible that in the initial phase of creating the relationship, it is precisely the "unsubtle" totality that is needed. Moses himself "put these things before them" as if he were placing a product before them for their general impression on its worthiness. If we were to remain in this situation, of only "doing", something fundamental would be missing in the relationship between the people of Israel and G-d.
Sometimes, in a relationship, one person might want to convey an idea that is important to them, but the other is resistant to. As in all cases, listening to what is said is more important than the actions that follow the discussion. Listening to understand is more important than listening to respond.
There is not necessarily a contradiction between doing and hearing, but an enthusiastic response without patient and deep listening could certainly miss the inner intention of what has been said.
In our Parsha of the week, after the initial agreement of the people to receive the covenant, Moses approached the people of Israel again.
Then he took the record of the covenant and read it aloud to the people. And they said, “All that יהוה has spoken we will faithfully do!”
Moses, this time is addressing the ears of the people, he is already hinting to them that this time more is required than an immediate commitment to obedience. The people understand the words of Moses and answer that they take it upon themselves, not only to do but also to hear. To hear means to listen with inner listening, listening to all the details and all the nuances. To listen not only to the practical instruction in the things but also to what is found in their depths. Listen not in order to do, but in order to connect. Listen as lovers, who hang onto every word, analyze every word and not just as obeyers.
The Torah teaches us about relationships in a twofold way. It teaches us what is the deep relationship that a person builds with his God, and at the same time what is the deep relationship that a person builds with those people he or she are close to.
The Torah teaches us that meeting our obligations is a basic condition for a relationship. It also teaches us not to forget to listen beyond the basic speech, to hear the inner voice that motivates, not only to action, but to a deep relationship. Listening in such a way also affects our work and influences it in a different way - a more precise, deep and rich way.
A girl once taught me how to see the heart. One day I was sick and scolded Rebecca a lot, more than she deserved. She listened with deep intent to my grumpy words. When I finished, she hugged me tightly and asked: 'Why is the teacher sad today?', without being offended by the injustice of my behavior. I was ashamed of my behavior towards her. (Zelda, Magic Manor Bird)
Shabbat Shalom, Matan Schneeweiss