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Listening to the Silence Between the Words

September 28, 2012

This week’s Torah portion is Ha’azinu which means to “give ear” or “listen.”  It is about our Patriarch Moses.  The Torah portion gave me the idea of writing about listening (but not about the Torah portion).

As mediators, we must listen.  Sometimes, however, it is not what people say aloud that makes a difference.  Sometimes, it is more important that we listen to the silence.

This is where the inner voice speaks and allows one to reveal, to learn, or to acknowledge a truth that was not previously apparent or shared.

This week involved a time of listening for me, but not in the ordinary mediation context.

A death in the family overtook the week.

Yesterday, at the funeral in a sanctuary filled to the brim with mourners, many wonderful words were spoken about our own patriarch who died.   The silent words had even more meaning.  I could see it on people’s faces.

Mixed with the sadness of the day and the tender thoughts of our uncle and his survivors was the inner message that nearly everyone experienced: “the family is together.”

This inner message spoke loudly to me, as I sat with my wife and two adult children who kibitzed with each other and spoke to or watched others in the room doing the same.

All were there.  All were “present.”

“The family is together” was perhaps the strongest message.

It meant more than coming together to honor our Uncle.  It meant that the family had come together to honor itself.

It is a large family, a family of mutual strength and support.  Notwithstanding the sadness, it is ultimately a family of joy that celebrates its unique existence and importance for its own sake.

And in the silence we heard our patriarch acknowledge, too, that “the family is together.”

It was important to him, as it is to us.

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