Our nephew just turned three, and among the birthday gifts we brought for him was a new book. I spent a good chunk of our time in southern Florida with a small boy perched on my lap as we paged through the slim, lushly illustrated volume. We must have read it all the way through five times on the first evening alone. The next two days, I could barely gulp down my coffee or snag a bite of bagel in the morning — he wanted to hear the story again, again, again. It didn’t matter that he had practically memorized the words already. He had to hear it.
I know my husband loves me. No matter how deep in my marrow I know it, I still want to hear him say it, to feel his words like a caress.
If I have wronged someone, it doesn’t matter whether that person knows I’m sorry. They still deserve to hear my apology in my own words and voice.
Hearing the week’s Torah portion being chanted is an entirely different experience than reading it. The sound of the word, not just its dictionary definition, helps illuminate its meaning.
In services, we hear some of the same words and phrases repeated over and over again, and the repetition makes the rhythm that helps us build kavanah, prayerful intention, the right state of mind. All prayer would be silent if hearing were unimportant.
#BlogElul, the brainchild of Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, invites participants to chronicle the month leading up to the Jewish High Holy Days through blog posts, photos, and other social media expressions.