Hearing Without Listening

ROSH HASHANAH: Why do we say God "hears" and "listens" to the shofar?

At the end of the Shofarot beracha, in the Musaf Amida of Rosh Hashanah, we find the following phrase:

כִּי אַתָּה שׁוֹמֵֽעַ קוֹל שׁוֹפָר וּמַאֲזִין תְּרוּעָה וְאֵין דּֽוֹמֶה לָּךְ:

For You hear the sound of shofar, and listen to the teruah; and there is none like You.

Why do we say that God “hears” the sound of the shofar and “listens” to the teruah? Why mention the different sounds of the shofar – the tekiah and the teruah – and why are different verbs used?

Rabbi Benji Levy, Dean of Jewish Life and Learning at Moriah College in Sydney, tells the story of virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell who was almost totally ignored when he played at a Metro station – despite the crowds who passed him.

The shofar and the story of bell have an important message for us this Rosh Hashanah:

Hearing without listening

Hearing refers to the passive, background noise that passes one by, whereas listening is an active exercise, requiring concentration on the content and an appreciation of the context of the symphony that is life…

Posted by Rabbi Benji on Monday, September 18, 2017

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