Ears of Philosophy

Hebrew as a language is organized around roots. Many words can be built on a single root and often the words seem to be philosophically connected.

There is a Torah Portion called Ha’azinu. It’s usually translated as “Give ear” or “Listen.” Listening is more involved than simply hearing. You may hear* something, but are you really listening?

The Hebrew word for ear is: אוזן (ozen).

The verb from that root is להאזין (l’ha’azin). It’s more common today to use להקשיב (l’hakshiv) to say to listen, but l’hakshiv includes a nuance of pay attention and obey.

The Hebrew word for scales is מאזניים (moznayim). Specifically scales like in the sign for Libra, balancing scales.

The Hebrew word for balance (like on the above-mentioned scales) is מאוזן (me’uzan).

Long before science told us that the intricate inner ear contains the mechanism to regulate balance in human beings, ears were somehow connected to balancing.

The world is totally unbalanced right now, and it has a lot to do with an inability to listen. Everyone is stuck in their algorithm-curated social media echo chambers.

If we want to move our world to a better place and find balance, we need to give ear; we need to listen.

Listen: to hear something with thoughtful attentiongive consideration.

“Listen.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary

It’s hard to listen to something or someone you don’t agree with. It’s hard to listen to stories and incidents that make you uncomfortable. The bigger the divisions, the harder it’s going to be.

And we’ll conclude with the Greeks.

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.


*I don’t know if hear in English is in any way related to ear. But if it is, does it mean that in English ears are only for hearing, but not truly listening?

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