Seminar aims to show communication is about more than just words
“Words have the power to make or break relationships.”
Rabbi Mendel Blecher of Chabad of The Woodlands is offering “Communication: Its Art and Soul” at the Chabad. The six-session course began Jan. 23 and attendees will be discussing how almost constant interactions with electronic and digital devices are affecting relationships.
Using both Jewish literature and contemporary modern studies, the course delves into what it means to truly communicate with someone and how miscommunication affects relationships. The first week’s lesson explored the essence of communication and how to do so effectively.
In the Torah
″(In the Torah) there’s a lot of wisdom on speaking, listening, how to effectively use communication to enhance relationships, resolve conflict and have a positive influence on (others),” Blecher said.
For example, Proverbs 18:20-21 reads, “From the fruit of the mouth, a person’s stomach becomes satiated; with the produce of his lips, he is sated. Death and life are in the hand of the tongue.”
If a person lacks the ability to effectively communicate with co-workers, superiors and clients, then all of their knowledge in their field of work will not bring success, Blecher explained. This in turn could cause financial problems and the person may go hungry.
“Words have the power to make or break relationships,” Blecher added. In the Torah, an entire kingdom was split in two (the tribe of Judah and tribe of Israel) because of harshly spoken words. This illustrates how important communication is, he said.
Scientists have studied what communication is and the various types of communication. For those who question why faith scriptures should be included on a class about communication, Blecher said it boils down to two types of wisdom-human and divine.
“Why focus on Torah sources at all? There’s been so many studies about communication, why don’t we just use those tips?” Blecher asked. “The answer is there’s two different types of wisdom. There’s human generated wisdom and there’s divine wisdom. When we talk about human wisdom, it’s based on trial and error. They do studies on people, come up with statistics-what works and what doesn’t work. The Torah however is not trial and error. It’s actually the manual and the code behind our experience and existence in its entirety. The Torah is divine wisdom. It’s God’s wisdom. It is to be understood as the instruction manual that teaches us how to use what’s around us or how to interact with what’s around us.”
Blecher used the analogy of learning how to use a new iPhone. It can be taken out of the box and the user can discover how it works through the trial and error of pushing buttons to see what they do. The phone will work well enough, but the fullest potential will never be unleashed with experience alone. That’s why an owner’s manual is included. If read from cover to cover, all the functions that the phone can perform can be unlocked.
The human knowledge of communication through scientific studies is through experimentation to see what works and the Torah is the instructional manual on how to communicate, Blecher said.
But what exactly is communication?
Speech Reveals and Conceals
Communication is not simply speaking. People can talk for hours and communicate nothing with each other, Blecher said. Words can be flowery and complex or short and simplistic. But unless they reveal something about the speaker, they are just words. No communication has taken place.
“The essence of communication is soul revelation. Talking can be non-revealing. In order for us to be communicating, communication must reveal something about your inner psyche, your inner soul, your thoughts and your feelings,” Blecher said. “What does speech boil down to? Not words. Revelation. Something is hidden and speech reveals that which was contained within,” he explained. “Speech is basically revealing what our inner thoughts and our inner feelings are to somebody else.”
While speech reveals inner thoughts, it also conceals many more that are running through a person’s mind.
According to the Torah, God created the universe by speaking. In order to do so, he had to limit his infinite knowledge and concentrate on a single word or idea.
″(Speech is) revealing but on the other hand, it’s concealing. The truth is it has to be so because God is infinite,” Blecher said. “There has to be a revelation, but the revelation has to have brakes on it. There’s got to be valves on it because it’s a tremendously powerful revelation coming from the infinite, so there has to be a contraction and limiting as well.”
Blecher again used the analogy of a cell phone. If a person plugged a charger into the phone and then tried to plug the charger into a nuclear power source, the phone would be fried. The output is so powerful that the small device would break and become useless. Without limitation, or concealment, communication can be overwhelming.
Another example is a person’s train of thought. If a wire could live feed one person’s thoughts to another, it would be unintelligible - just a rapid and jumbled string of words.
“Speech requires us to filter and express what’s going on inside of us. We want to reveal what’s there, but it has to be limited and come out in a clear and a structured way. So the concealment is for the sake of accurately and effectively revealing ourselves,” Blecher explained.
There are five more sessions planned for the course. Two options are available: Tuesday evenings at 7:15 p.m. or Wednesday mornings at 11 a.m. The payment is structured for all six sessions, but Blecher is offering a pro-rated amount for those who only attend a few classes. The first class for newcomers is free so they can decide if they want to attend more.
Those interested can call 281-719-5213 or visit www.JewishWoodlands.com/learn for registration and other course-related information.