My father used Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to teach me how to study Torah. I had to listen to the magical notes and figure out which season was speaking. My father taught me that music speaks volumes. He insisted that a person could only understand the message of a verse or Midrash if they know how to listen. Hence, the importance of the Shema: “Hear!” When I read a Haftarah I imagine actually listening to the prophet speak. I especially appreciated my father’s lesson when I began to hear the Music of Halacha. I was shocked this week to hear someone denounce the Foundation Stone simply for having a regular column on the Music of Halacha. My verbal attacker insisted that law is law and there is no room for music, only obedience. (No wonder Eric Hoffer said; “What monstrosities would walk the streets were some people’s faces as unfinished as their minds.” Thanks for letting me get that out, I feel much better!)
This is when the real lesson of hearing begins: I can dismiss my critic as a small-minded fanatic, and some other choice names. Or, I can apply the lesson of hearing and figure out what was really bothering him. I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that he is hard of hearing. He doesn’t hear the music of Halacha, and, I suspect that he is equally tone-deaf to other parts of Torah as well.
The Foundation Stone is intended to teach people how to hear the prophets, Halacha, the messages of the Holydays and each other. The phenomenal response to my request for thoughts on the Haggadah indicates that we are succeeding. Thank you to all our contributors. Keep those emails coming! We hope to be able to publish The Foundation Stone Haggadah. We are looking for a sponsor. (Was the hint too subtle?) Please read the Fridkis Column on Forms of Prayer – A Conversation – to learn about our newest joint effort.
We hope you enjoy listening to Ezekiel teach us about Time and Space, and hearing the Music of Halacha guide us in making choices. Listen in to Table Talk and discuss Delight and God’s Presence, and hear What if the Reason discussBackwards and Yokes. Relax and listen to a Story of the Ba’al Shem Tov or a selection from Keter Shem Tov. Listen to Rabbi Irwin Katsof teach us about the other part of a conversation in Words Can Heal.
We are thrilled an honored to add The Torah Connection by Rabbi Yaakov Shlomo Weinberg (no relation), a very long time friend from Yeshivas Ner Yisrael, on the weekly portion. We hope you enjoy it.
We dedicate all of this week’s columns to the merit of Yosef Chaim ben Shoshana. May God hear our prayers for his complete recovery.
I hope it all sounds as good to you as it does to me.
Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg