As I drove in the car the other day, listening to my favorite radio station KCSN (88.5 on your FM dial), the song “Believe” by My Morning Jacket came on, as it has a lot lately. It is from their new album and thus is getting a lot of radio play, but much more importantly for me, is the message, which so accurately reflects the journey I am currently on.
If you read my music blog, you know how much this bands to me… and how much this song, and this whole album, has really had an amazing impact on me. It is ALL ABOUT a deep and spiritual journey… a yearning for truth and light…
I do not believe anyone in the band is Jewish, but the philosophy behind the lyrics could very well be…
“Believe, believe, believe, believe.
Nobody knows… for sure.”
Now, even a small doubt in faith, in emunah, may seem blasphemous. I don’t take this as that. This is for those who are not so sure… who are questioning…
To me this means that there is no downside in believing… and in fact, we should and must believe because nobody knows for sure.
I wish I had no doubt… and I can strongly say that the % of my doubt has decreased quite a bit since my trip to Israel and with all of my studying… but I am not sure if I will ever be at 100%. I just don’t know.
Yet I move forward and I believe, and believe strongly… much more strongly than I ever have before. And it is an educated and studied belief… the best kind.
Now KCSN is based on the campus of CSUN, so it does not always come in clear, and between my house and the gym, the signal started fading… the song started getting over run with static… so I really had to stay focused… really concentrate to hear it… to take it in…
What a great lesson that is right there!
I did not want to change the station… And even though I have heard this song probably a hundred times, I just wanted to hear it again… Needed to hear it again… To grab onto it…
So I am sure I leaned forward (as if that helps), crinkled my eyes (as if that helps)… and really tried to hear it through the other “noise.”
Well, of course this immediately reminded me of one of the 48 Ways. Rabbi Noah Weinberg (from his analysis of the Pirkei Avos) says in Way # 2, that we must LISTEN WITH OUR EARS…
And they almost immediately react from their position… sometimes without even hearing, really hearing what the other person says. We do this with our children, our spouse, our family and friends. We react with what we THINK we are going to get, instead of what we actually do get.
It also goes back to my previous post about stoping at the Mezuzah BEFORE you walk inside any door… to open yourself up to the possibilities and not be locked into the bad mood, or fight, or whatever you THINK might be waiting.
Listen With Your Ears means this…
Stop… breathe… and practice Effective Listening.
Hear the words.
Understand the message.
Then respond and act.
Remember that “Listen” and “Silent” have the exact same letters.
In Pirkei Avos 1:8, Yehuda ben Tabbai says: “When serving as a judge, do not act as a lawyer.”
This is another great lesson, and something that comes up in A LOT of Jewish teaching. There are times when we just need to stop arguing our points… stop always trying to win and really take in both sides and just simply listen. It is only then that we can make a true and hopefully objective judgement. This is NOT easy, I know. It is something that we need to practice… every… single… day. And one can probably never be FULLY objective… We all have our history, thoughts, feelings, etc.
And I am not saying that you stop fighting the good fight… we must always make our voices heard, always present what we truly feel and believe in… always stand up and defend those who cannot defend themselves, or who no one is defending. We must strive and search for the truth… ALWAYS.
I believe, with all of my heart, that this will require us to ALWAYS Listen With Our Ears… and to MUCH MORE OFTEN be a judge and not a lawyer.