As mentioned in our previous post, Orly and I attended the GA (General Assembly of the North American Federations) this week, the motive of which was “WE NEED TO TALK”.
At the GA, the head of Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog made a special announcement:
Jewish Agency plans to teach Hebrew worldwide
Herzog’s words reflected exactly what Orly and I had in mind (and preached) for so many years now.
See below the comparison between what we wrote last week and Herzog’s words:
Orly and I are extremely excited and look forward for all of us at Ulpan-Or to significantly contributing to this fascinating initiative!
One of the interesting sessions we took part in, had discussions related to cultural / language differences and barriers.
This session was conducted by the Hartman Institute.
The Talmud in “Nedarim”, page 66b brings the following story:
A certain Babylonian went up to the Land of Israel and took a wife [there].
(Both, husband and wife spoke Aramaic. He – in the Babylonian dialect, she – in the dialect used in Eretz Israel.)
‘Boil me two lentils,’ he ordered, and she boiled him just two lentils, which infuriated him with her.
(Cook me two (meaning ‘some’) lentils, and she boiled him (exactly) two lentils, taking him literally.)
The next day he said: Cook me a griwa – ‘sea’ (intending a large amount), so she boiled a ton of lentils enough feed the whole town.
He then asked: ‘Go and bring me two bezuni;’ (intending to small gourds – this is what the Babylonians referred to in their Aramaic dialect) so she went and brought him two candles.
(In the Israeli Aramaic dialect ‘bezuni’ meant candles – not the candles as we refer to those nowadays, which are made of wax, but those vessels made of clay and filled with oil).
In anger the husband said to her: ‘Go and break them on the head of the “bava”.’
(In the Babylonian Aramaic dialect bava meant ‘gate’. The wife interpreted the husband’s request for her to go and break those on the head of one of the more important people in Israel by the name Bava).
At those times Bava ben Buta was sitting as a judge at the gate, engaged in judging in a lawsuit. So she went right away and broke the candles on his head.
Said Bava to her: ‘What is the meaning of this that thou hast done?’
She replied, ‘Thus my husband did order me.’
Bava ben Buta said to her: ‘Thou hast fulfilled thy husband’s will, may the Almighty bring forth from thee two sons like Bava ben Buta.
This story is fascinating, just addressing the aspect of the language barrier (without indulging in discussion related to the cultural, gender, status differences etc.) preventing from husband and wife to reach an understanding in simple day-to-day interaction regarding mundane activity.
Maybe of the main lessons that underlines this story is the question ‘not asked’.
One can notice, that the wife’s questions (thought internally) in response to her husband’s orders were “WHAT?”.
She did not question the reason for the strange requests (in her perception) that came from her husband.
She did not raise a simple question “WHY?”
Bava ben Buta, however, in response to her strange behavior was the only one in this story to ask “WHY?”
Asking the “WHY” question brought a great blessing to the husband and his wife…
Now, let’s find out who Bava ben Buta was.
Bava ben Buta lived in the 1st century. He was a disciple of Shamai.
According to a tradition preserved in the Talmud, Bava ben Buta was the only teacher of the Law who was spared by King Herod, who killed all the other sages at that time.
Although, Herod did not kill Bava ben Buta, he deprived him of his eyesight.
According to this tradition Bava ben Buta was deprived of his eyesight by Herod, who advised the latter to rebuild the Temple in expiation of his great crimes.
So, coming back to the Talmudic story, Bava ben Buta was blind, and could not see what the woman intended to do as she had approached him.
But, being blind, his ability and skill to listen was a lot sharper compared to others.
Being a good listener, he was the one to ask “WHY?”.
Maybe the lesson here for us is, that sometimes we need to shut ourselves from what’s going around, bombarding ourselves, close our eyes – listen and then instead of being entrapped in our current paradigms just ask “Why?” and gain the ability to shift our paradigms and gain much better perception of the reality and the other…
In our tradition the fundamental verse –
שמע ישראל – Hear, O Israel…
is pronounced with closed eyes to be able to internalize the eternal truth…
It seems to us that even speaking seemingly the same language is not enough.
To be able to indulge in a fruitful and constructive dialogue, to achieve a paradigm shift – we may need first to carefully listen to the other, ask the “why” questions to understand the other’s perspective and only then to respond.
WE NEED TO LISTEN AND TALK HEBREW!
Yoel & Orly
Yoel & Orly
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