Midot Hayom 5770 Day 29: Chesed in Hod
“He does not interrupt his friend’s words”- this refers to Aaron (Avot d’Rabbi Nosson 37:12). When Moses spoke, Aaron would bend his ear to listen in awe, the Scripture considers it as if he heard [directly] from the Holy One, Blessed is He (Mechilta Bo 3).
I do not enjoy being interrupted, but I cannot say that someone who does not interrupt deserves special praise. Why does the Midrash praise Aharon as one who “did not interrupt his friend’s words?”
The second Midrash provides us with the explanation of the first: Aaron was an incredible listener. He listened with Hod – full attention to the speaker’s inner being, which is why the verse “considers it as if heard directly from God.”
People who interrupt are listening to words, not the speaker. Aharon, the paradigm of Hod, is able to focus on the inner glory of each individual. He, hears the speaker’s soul, not just the words.
The Hod’s listener’s focus offers an opportunity for the speaker to expand and grow into his own Hod. Aharon’s listening was a reflection of Moshe’s listening, as Rashi (Numbers 7:89) describes, “Moshe would listen in to God speaking to Himself.”
Aharon listening to Moshe expanded Moshe’s listening by emulating it, “When Moses spoke, Aaron would bend his ear to listen in awe,” and was therefore also able to hear, “as if he heard [directly] from the Holy One, Blessed is He.”
When we focus on the speaker and not his words we are using Hod. The speaker senses the difference in the Hod’s listening, which in turn attunes him to his own Hod, and allows him to access his inner “Glory” to grow and expand.
I once read a story about Tommy asking his mother, “Mommy, where do I come from?” Tommy was only six-years old but his mommy felt that if he understood enough to ask that he was entitled to a real answer. She took out a bunch of books, a pen and paper, and spent half an hour explaining to Tommy, exactly where “he came from.”
When she finished, she asked Tommy, “Do you understand?”
“Oh yes, Mommy, that’s really interesting. But Michael comes from Pittsburgh and I want to know where I come from.”
Tommy’s mommy heard the words of Tommy’s question, but she did not hear his actual question.
How well do we hear our children’s questions? How careful are we to understand something a spouse says to us? Do we pay attention to our own questions and how they reflect our inner struggles and searches?
Chesed in Hod reminds us that we can learn a great deal about someone, even ourselves, when we pay attention, and that we can actually help someone grow simply by properly listening.
- Practice listening to the speaker, not his words. Pay attention to what he feels as he is speaking, and to what he feels about the topic he is discussing.
- What is my child really saying?
- Catch yourself when you begin to formulate a response even before the speaker is finished. Thinking about our response before he finishes is a form of interruption.