The Discipline Of Quiet

Last week I sat in three airports and could not escape the tinny, insistent sound of the television. It reminded me of one researcher who claimed that we are always dreaming, but because of the stimulus of the day, dreams can only peak through at night. The noise of the world shuts out our dreams.

The Rabbis of the Talmud taught that God’s voice at Sinai reverberates throughout history but the world distracts us. If only, say the Rabbis, everything would be quiet for a moment, we would hear the echo of God’s voice through time.

How do we find silence to listen to what we cannot otherwise hear? The chasidic practice of hitbodedut, aloneness, encouraged devotees to spend hours alone in the forest. That discipline was crucial in a world before cellphones, cars, the Internet, the TV, the radio and music piped in everywhere one goes. Silence today is precious and rare. The beeping, hectoring, multicolored, ever-selling world will not stop. Sometimes we must find a way in our own lives to stop it.

Quiet. Now, what you are hearing may be your dreams. Or the voice of God.

Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow his teachings a

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.