Listening through both ears

R’Eliyahu Dessler z”tl, in one of his fond letters to his talmidim, commented at length on the verse Devarim 1:16, which goes (as translated here), “I then gave your judges instructions, saying, ‘Listen [to every dispute] among your brethren, and judge honestly between each man and his brother, [even] where a proselyte [is concerned].” R’Dessler noted especially the word in the verse translated as “between”. Isn’t it hard most times to be able to maintain an unbiased view on things, to be able to listen to all parties concerned without taking sides, to be able to judge “between” views and parties? It is our nature to be easily bought by one side of things, being led by our own inclinations, our own make-up, upbringing and set of experiences.

This happens all the more easily when we listen to 1 opinion or view 1st before all others. Ah, such is our vulnerability, that 1 opinion or view, when given the chance to flash itself before our minds’ eyes before we open our vistas to other opinions or views, can so easily take root and sway our perceptions in that 1 single direction.

All the more too when the subject is relevant to our minds and our souls, not just a piece of mathematical reasoning or a hypothesis of how the physical universe works, when it pertains to a subject that we have personal stakes in, whether to live our lives one way or the other, whether to take an action or not.

It is entirely due to R’Dessler’s teaching that I have now come to appreciate the importance of listening through both my ears, and this, I find, comes more easily, when I myself am not informed beforehand of the views of any side, and then, listen in to how both sides debate each other out, and only after this, do a careful analysis of the points brought up by both parties. As much as I have the fortune to listen in to quality debates on topics such as religious Zionism and American liberalism, I have recently treated myself, on frequent bus trips no less, to a debate between R’Dovid Gottlieb and a critic of his work “Living Up To The Truth”, Ephraim Rubin, which had been carried out in great civility and openness of mind, here.


~ by musafiremes on June 22, 2007.

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