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Rabbi Mendy's Blog

A weekly exploration into the Torah's lessons for life

doing is great, but listening is even better


She says "he doesn’t listen to me", he says "but I do what she tells me to do". Can they both be right? This question plagues many relationships, some between males and females, and some where the roles are reversed.

The answer lies in this week’s Torah portion Yisro, where we recount the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. There we read that the Jewish people accepted the Torah by saying “we will do, and we will listen”.

The giving of the Ten Commandments is an example of a relationship being formed, in this case it’s the Jewish people and G-d, but the same can be applied to any relationship. They require both doing and listening.

While it is true that action speaks loudest, and fulfilling the desires of another is the building blocks for any relationship. Listening is how we take the relationship to the next level. When one person talks, they are revealing themselves to the other. If the recipient truly opens themselves up, not only hearing but listening to what their partner is saying, then the communication can help one learn more about the another, that they may grow more deeply connected.

This is the value of “doing” and “listening”. Yes, you might be good and getting things done, but if you don’t take the time to listen, you will never truly connect with another person. To listen fully is not easy, it requires clearing our minds, to make room for another’s perspective. Yet the effort it requires is worth it, as only then can we truly come to know one another, and fully connect as human beings.

Good Shabbos & Shabbat Shalom, 
Rabbi Mendy Dubrowski

Mission: Think of your friends and family, those closest to you. Do you fully listen when they speak? Do you find yourself struggling to make sense of their actions? Are you mind to listen to them, and you’ll come to know them better then ever before.

I care about you

You care about the future of the Jewish people, right? You want to make sure that our tradition continues to be celebrated, and that people feel connected to their faith and heritage. Yet, the numbers scarily predict our demise, as so many of our people are falling out of Jewish practice, and eventually even Jewish identity.

Maybe we’re going about this all wrong. 

In this week’s Torah portion Vaeira, we read about Moshe’s frustrations, and concerns that the Jewish people wouldn't listen to him. As his initial conversations with Pharaoh backfired, and the Jewish slaves were made to create their own bricks, while keeping the same quota. G-d tells Moshe that he must tell the Jewish people, that the end of their slavery and suffering will come very soon, Moshe tries to convey the message, but reports back to G-d that the Israelites won’t listen to him, "because their spirit was broken and because the labor was harsh.” It wasn’t Moshe’s fault that their faith was weak, that they lacked confidence and trust that G-d was going to redeem them. Rather a people who were physically broken, impoverished, ostracized, enslaved, can’t thing about spiritual pursuit until they’re physical needs are met, until they are shown that someone cares about their personal wellbeing, only then can they focus on their spiritual growth, their connection to G-d. 

This is the model we need to follow today, in our goal of reconnecting our brothers and sisters to their Jewish roots. We must first show them care and concern, as an individual. We must love and accept them for who they are. Once that bond is established, only then can we work to reenergize their passion for Jewish life, by showing them the joy it entails.

It’s time we reach out like Moshe, and recognize the pain and hurt many of our brethren face every single day. Let us turn to one another, offering a helping hand, a gentle touch, and a warm smile. Once connected we can then all rise together in celebration of our Jewish life.

Good Shabbos & Shabbat Shalom, 
Rabbi Mendy Dubrowski

Mission: Consider someone you know, who lacks a support system in the Jewish community, maybe they’re unaffiliated or have special circumstances. Reach out and enquire how you can help, with no string attached. Build the bridge, then walk them over and re-connect them.

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