Her or Derher

Jan 30 2018

Her or Derher

“I’m listening, I can tell you exactly what you said”, said every husband to wife.


In Yeshiva, sometimes when dozing off in shiur (class) or being preoccupied with some other nonsense the Rabbi would say “du herzt” which means do you hear?


The answer would be as above, “of course, I can tell you exactly what you said”. The Rabbi would proceed to ask “du herzt tzi du derherzt”, are you listening or are your internalizing.


Both words mean to hear but one is to internalize and the other is simply to use the mechanism of the ear to process information.


There is hearing that simply a function of letting information go in. When information just goes in, it can simply go out. It doesn’t always have to literally go out to be meaningless, it just needs to have not been internalized.


Then there is hearing which is less about the function of letting the information in and much more about internalizing and allowing the information to impact you.


This is true even when simply pursuing intellectual comprehension of an idea. If one is not fully present then the information may not be of value when unpacking the ideas with the intent of full understanding.


(This is one of the reasons why reading important information on a digital device is not as powerful as reading from print. Studies show that the amount of information that is retained (and in turn potentially internalized) is significantly less than when processed from print media.)


Surely this is true when it comes to internalizing matters of emotion and of the spirit.


How many of us can repeat the sermon our Rabbi gave this past Yom Kippur? And if you can repeat it, how many of us can say that they have been changed or made change as a result?


Perhaps it’s not so much on account of the Rabbi not delivering well, but more so about the fact that we were not “derhering” internalizing when the Rabbi spoke. We weren’t fully present in the experience and as such the impact was not deep.




This week’s Torah portion begins with the words Vayishma Yisro, Yisro heard. Whatever it was that he heard motivated an action (after he packed up and gathered Moses’ wife and children) the Torah tells us five verses later “and he came”.


Our Sages say that Yisro heard that which had transpired to the Jewish People regarding the splitting of the sea and victory over Amalek He not only heard but he internalized to the point that it moved him to journey and join the Jewish People.


In fact our Sages say he was so moved that he converted to Judaism!


In our modern times we hear a lot of things. Media is excessive, cell phones, ipads, computers are all blasting information to us.


It is our job to decide what we will “her “and what we will “derher”, what are we going to truly let go out the other ear and what is worth internalizing.

That which is worth internalizing is worth acting upon. If it’s not worth acting upon its better left at the other ear.


Have a great Shabbos!

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