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Sound Bites: Forms of Expression



It is essential to understand that people express their thoughts in words in various styles. Some use many words while others are exceedingly brief. Some people speak literally, while others speak rhetorically or metaphorically. These distinctions are well known in the disciplines of rhetoric and grammar. However, our concern is simply this: no matter what order or manner of expression is used, when we penetrate the intention of a statement, we discover that the speaker desires to apply a particular predicate to a subject. Otherwise, his words have no substance, and no complete thought can be formed in the mind of the listener. Therefore, do not fix your attention on the manner of speech, but on the intended statement contained in the words. If the expression is condensed, you must apply what is missing in your mind, and if it is lengthier, you must remove the extraneous parts, forming a conceptual image of the abstracted subject. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, The Ways of Reason, Chapter 3)

We must become skilled listeners in order to properly hear the messages of the Shofar. Each blast has a unique message, and each sound, Tekiah, Teruah, Shevarim, and the closing Tekiah, is a different form of speech.

The Ramchal wrote about the necessary skills to study Talmud. We can practice these skills between now and Rosh Hashanah in order to properly hear and understand each message of the Shofar.

We can practice by listening with more care to other people, and by paying better attention to the messages from our souls and life experiences.

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