Scientifically speaking, sound is a vibration that travels through the air and is received by our ears. At some frequencies, the sounds can’t be heard, at some, they can. It is generally produced when objects vibrate or move, or when two or more objects come into contact with each other. This vibration/movement creates sound waves, which use particles in the air to travel. (Which is why there is no sound in space. It’s a vacuum without air to travel through.)
These sound waves can be absorbed by soft objects like pillows (which is why recording booths have padded walls and microphones- to absorb ambient sound. The can also be interrupted, stopped by thins like walls, doors, even other sound waves. The more things there are in a room, especially soft, fluffy things, the harder it is to hear sounds, like people talking. Did you ever wonder why it can be easier to hear people in completely empty rooms? Why sound sometimes sound muffled in rooms with carpeting vs. hardwood or tiled floors? Why it’s so much harder to hear someone when someone else is talking?
“Okay,” You say. “This is quite the science lesson, but what does this have to do with me?”
Well, what if I told you that we were all in a room with Hashem?
When a teacher is trying to get the attention of a particularly rowdy class, they sometimes drop a textbook on the floor in the hopes that the bang will quiet the students, right? Well that’s what Hashem is doing. Except He’s not using a textbook, no… he’s using an entire table. He’s dropping that table from so high that the resulting “BOOM!” should burst anyone’s eardrums. He’s yelling for us to notice Him, He’s screaming for our attention with every beat of our hearts, with every pulse of blood in our veins, with every chirp from the birds outside, with every click and clack of the keys on your keyboard, with every footstep slapping against the pavement, He is telling you “Look! Here I am! I am right here!”
Except most of the time, we refuse to hear Him. We’re like little kids getting news we don’t like, sticking our fingers in our ears and singing nothingness at the tops of our lungs so that we can’t hear Him. And our rooms, they aren’t just full. They are stuffed to bursting with books and clothes and distractions. They are brimming with objects, phones, computers, television, and all those things that society, that we ourselves, put in there to try and distract us from His calls, and we let them. We let ourselves stop hearing Him because we are so scared of what we might hear if we let ourselves listen.
But what do you think would happen if for just a minute, we cleared out the room? What if we ripped up the carpet from the floor and threw everything out and stopped screaming over Him and took our fingers out of our ears? Can you imagine if for just one second we were quiet?
Now, all of this isn’t to say that technology is the bane of existence. Technology can be a great thing, if we used it right. Objects can muffle the noise, certainly, but they can also amplify it. What if we took our phones and our computers and instead of letting them be pillows and walls noise-cancelling headphones, we turned them into microphones and speakers, and turned the transmitters in His direction? What if we used the things put in our rooms to distract us into means to hear Him more clearly? Things like phones and computers, they are marvelous technological advancements that have so improved our standards of living. Often, yes, they are used as distractions, but we could use them to do so many special things. We have access to a system of communications that can allow us to contact Rabbis about halachik questions and talk to family hundreds of miles away. We can look up the appropriate blessings for hearing thunder and passages of tehillim while we’re on the go. We can listen to podcasts by the greatest minds of our generation, and generations previous. What if we let our screens be the exact things that lets us get closer to Hashem, instead of being the ones that we put up to block Him out?
What if for just one second, we held our breaths, we stopped screaming, we turned the volume on high and we just listened?
What if we all just listened?
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.