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Hearing: The Action that Follows

“If only My nation would hear Me, if Israel would walk in My ways, in an instant I would subdue their foes, and against their tormentors turn My hand (Psalms 81:14–15).” God yearns for Israel to hear His words, saying, “If only they would listen and improve their ways, I would eagerly accept their repentance.” (Rashi)


Other commentaries explain that, “My nation,” refers to the common people who are relatively unsophisticated. God would be satisfied if the general population would simply hear Him. However, “Israel,” refers to the scholars. God expects them to immerse themselves in this study of His word and to toil incessantly in Torah study (Sifra, Bechukotai 26:1). Only thus will they become elevated and walk in God’s ways. This refers to entry into the Divine Presence. (Nefutzot Yehudah)

Different levels of hearing are expected from different people. There are some from whom God simply desires that they hear Him. There are others from whom God expects that they will seek out opportunities to hear God speaking to them through His Torah.

We can say that this verse informs us that there are different ways in which people can hear the Voice of the Shofar: There are those, whom it we can call the “Shema People,” who listen at specific times and to specific voices. These people must hear the Shofar almost passively. The only requirement is that they’re hearing be followed, as Rashi teaches, by an effort to improve their ways.

However, those who are generally more active Hearers, who seek out opportunities to hear God’s voice in their Torah study and prayers, must listen for the Shofar’s message long before it is sounded, they must study what the Torah teaches is the message of the shofar. By doing so, they can merit entering the Divine Presence.

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