Off the Pulpit: Saved by voices

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

A man complained to his psychiatrist that he talked to himself and was told that it is commonplace, nothing to worry about. But, said the man, you have no idea Doctor, what a nudnick I am.

The more time we spend alone the more likely we are to grow accustomed and perhaps impatient with our own voices inside our heads. For some it is a good thing: musician and wit Oscar Levant said he was giving up reading because he found it took his mind off himself. For most of us however, other voices are essential even if we are confined to our homes and cannot interact in person.

Rav Soloveitchik once described his Talmud class as follows: When he begins to teach, all of a sudden people appear, “Some of the visitors lived in the 11th century, some in the 12th century, some in the 13th century, some lived in antiquity – Rebbe Akiva, Rashi, Rabbeinu Tam, the Ra’avad, the Rashba, more and more come in, come in, come in. Of course, what do I do? I introduce them to my pupils and the dialogue commences.”

Jewish tradition is a room crowded with voices – loud, soft, witty, wise, angry, despairing, uplifting, Divine. Come and listen – you will feel less alone.

(Rabbi David Wolpe is the senior rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.)

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