Vayeshev

Silence is a loud and powerful means of communication. Silence can be prayer, and the divine is encountered before and beyond words. There is also an entire vocabulary of silence for communication between people. This can be dangerous. If we are constantly misunderstood through words, how much more so in our silences. Joseph’s brothers “hated him, and could not speak to him peacefully”, and his father “kept the matter to himself.” Sometimes we need words. Silences of pain, anger, frustration and jealousy are hard to hear and easy to reject. However difficult the process is, though, they can only be engaged with after being translated into mere words, and then translated again into another, richer silence of reconciliation and acceptance.

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[Inspired by: Genesis 37; various commentaries on Psalm 65:2; Rabbi Arthur Green on ‘Sacred Silence‘; 7th century Sudanese painting of St. Anne; Menachem Mendel of Kotzk on Avot 3:2 and Likutei Moharan I:64; and 4’33” by John Cage.]

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