Parashat Va-Etchanan

Auditive balance

Our weekly Torah section contains one of the fundamental pillars of the Jewish faith: the "Shema Israel".

For that reason, I would like to talk about the centrality of the sense of hearing in the Jewish tradition.

Our People is overwhelmed with visual and auditive reminders. We can mention the tefillin, the mezuzah, the tzitzit, and the Chanukah candles among the visual reminders and the shofar is an outstanding example among the auditive ones. These reminders work in the same way that a compass works in the open sea. They point to us the way to follow and they make us remember who we are and towards where we go.

However, our people always believed more in its ears than in its eyes. When a people hears, he can transmit, and when the ear fails, the Jewish People is in danger.

A very graphical example appears in the book of Be-Midbar. In Parashat Be-Haalotcha it is told about the signals that our people had during its march in the desert. A cloud marked the exact site in which the People of Israel had to encamp and two trumpets of silver helped to congregate to the People at the time of their departure. (see Numbers 9:15 - 10:10).

Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut comments this passage:

"The cloud was a visual, the trumpets an auditive reminder of G-d's presence. Somehow, Jewish instinct never quite trusted the witness of the eyes. Moses performed signs, but these could be duplicated – what he said could not. At Sinai the emphasis was not so much on what the people saw but, more importantly, on what they heard. The true key word of Judaism is not "Reeh" (See) but "Shema" (Hear). The cloud is gone, the sound of the shofar remains".

The Rabbi says that if the Jewish People loses its capacity of hearing not just becomes deaf…but also becomes blind! In that instant the people loses the compass. It is not accidental that the center of the human balance is close to the ears. The Hebrew language, with its well-known wisdom, teaches to us that that the word "Izun" (`Balance') contains the same linguistic root that the word "Ozen" (Ear).

The balance and the future of the People of Israel resides in maintaining the millenarian capacity to exercise the Shema, to hear, to transmit and to teach to those who follow us in the chain ife.

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