Word of the Day

Elul 5, 5779
September 5, 2019

Our Sages teach that spending some time in silence each day during the month of Elul is an important part of teshuvah . In silence we can reflect on the learning we are doing and the changes we wish to make. In silence it is easier to hear our own deeper wisdom, telling us the truths it would be easier not to hear. In silence it is easier to feel a sense of bitachon , a sense of trust or faith in God (see yesterday’s post).

From our Sources

Like many things we think about, silence is dichotomous…. There is active silence – the art of quieting the clamor, of focused listening. Reverence is intentionally paying deep attention to the stillness that allows hearing the still, small voice whispering behind the curtain, the song of each heartbeat…. This, I think, is the silence of love, of being held in the warm embrace of Presence. It is the stillness between heartbeats where life flows at our center; the clear pool that reflects the image of the Divine.

There is also passive silence, withholding words of comfort or condemnation, the silence of fear. It is the bleak frozen stillness of being exposed in a vast, windswept expanse of Absence. This is the silence that will not take the risk of taking a stand or make the effort of taking responsibility; the silence that does not speak out, implying consent and allowing the voice of evil to prevail. It is the silence of ego that prioritizes individual satisfaction over communal well-being; of pride, too busy and distracted to respond to the cries of a lonely hearts’ longing; it is the self-protective, self-serving, self-determined silence that prefers safety and comfort over responsibility and engagement; it is the smug, self-satisfied silent treatment of power exerting control over compassion.
We have the right to remain silent and, sometimes, we have a moral duty to speak.

Silence, like words, are powerful. Like any power, it depends how we use it and our motivation for doing so.
-Vanessa Werthan (posted at rebjamiecbemussar.wordpress.com)

Reflections

Do you make time for silence in your daily life?
Do you find it challenging? Peaceful? Scary? 
Do you ever use silence as a weapon? When and why?
When do you wish you had been silent this past year? 
When do you wish you had spoken up?

Action

Try to set aside at least 5 minutes to sit in silent reflection each day. You may use that time to write responses to the reflection questions. Even better, you may simply be present to yourself, your life, this moment … open to whatever may arise.