Chukat: On Hearing & Being Heard

Did you ever choose to share your heart with someone, to really share the secrets that lie deep within, only to find that the person on the other end didn’t hear you at all? 

As any musician knows, there is nothing worse than expressing your deepest self through your art only for it to fall on deaf ears. When there is no vessel to properly hear what the musician is trying to convey, the music ends up nowhere. The same is true for great rabbis, teachers, and educators of all sorts, who have so much beauty and wisdom to share with the world, but no one is willing or able to properly hear what they’re trying to say.  

The Chasidic masters equate this deeply painful experience with death. When we have so much life to give over, but it does not encounter life on the other end, it simply falls into an empty abyss, a lifeless body buried in the ground. He explains that this is exactly the reason why Parshat Chukat begins with the laws of the red heifer, the medium through which we were purified from coming in contact with death.

When we look back at last week’s Parsha, when Korach rebelled against the leadership of Moshe and Aaron, we can imagine Moshe Rabbeinu’s internal crisis. Watching the ground open up and swallow people whole before his eyes, Moshe was riddled with a sense of doubt and guilt: “If only I was capable of giving over the Torah in a way that its eternal beauty could be properly heard, none of this would have ever happened.”

Moshe experienced a level of death when witnessing the perfection of the Divine word be so horribly lost in transmission after leaving his heart. That is why Parshat Chukat begins with the laws of how to purify oneself from contact with death.

May we be blessed to truly hear the depths of another person, whether it be our child’s cry, our spouse’s request, our friend’s story, or the words of the Parsha.

May we share our story in a way that the deepest, purest whispers of our heart can be heard clearly by those around us.

I bless us all to merit the experience of truly hearing others and having our own voices be heard in this world. 

Good Shabbos,
Shlomo

About the Author
Born in New Jersey, while growing up between Los Angeles and Ra'anana. I released a number of albums, and have been blessed to sing some of my melodies throughout the world. Received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Chaim Brovender and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin at Yeshivat Hamivtar. We live in Efrat, with our precious son and four daughters. Spiritual leader of Beit Knesset Shirat David, in Efrat, where I get to pray and learn with some of my best friends. Founder of the Shlomo Katz project.
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