As school begins, excitement and anxiety build for all the wonderful surprises and challenges that we will meet in the coming year. We might be excited to see our friends again, or we might be worried about the new subjects we will uncover. However, there is one basic rule that we need to remember in school and in life: listen. That’s it. All we need to do in life is listen.
True listening isn’t doing our best sponge impression and soaking up everything that’s around us. No, true listening is taking in information and wrestling with what we discover. This week we read parashat Eikev, a Torah portion where we are reminded what happens to those who listen to God. The Israelites are told that they belong to an eternal covenant with God, one that requires listening (read: caring for) the Earth and all the creatures that live upon it. Moses explains to the Israelites that true listening is an act of love done with our whole heart, mind, and being.
For the student, the husband, the wife, or even two strangers on the street, we must remember that generous listening is at the core of everything we do. As we enter into this new year of learning, let us honor all those from whom we learn–our teachers, our parents, and our friends–by being present with open ears and an eager spirit ready to discover something new in this world.