The true strength of a leader lies not just in guiding, but in listening. * On Hayom Yom for 10 Elul.
Is true guidance simply a matter of imparting wisdom, or does it also involve the nuanced art of listening? Today's teaching provides a framework for a private audience with an authentic spiritual leader like a Rebbe. The purpose of such meetings is to "clarify one’s own status," "designate a mode of divine service," and crucially to "bind himself in total unity" with the Rebbe.
This last point indicates that the relationship is not unilateral; it's not just about receiving advice. There is an element of unity, of oneness, that can only be achieved when there is mutual understanding, which is facilitated by listening. How can we grasp the transformative power that comes from both giving and receiving in a conversation?
To expand upon this, let's consider the advice in Pirkei Avot to "Make for yourself a teacher." The use of the word "make" implies that the process is mutual. In a true relationship of guidance, exemplified by a Rebbe, both parties contribute. The Rebbe is not just an advice dispenser but also a keen listener. This active listening allows the Rebbe to "designate a mode of avoda" that is specific and individualized, enabling a transformative process.
Today, where we're often reduced to sound bites and tweets, the act of genuinely listening to someone else becomes revolutionary. It’s not merely a sideline activity but is at the heart of effective and authentic leadership. A Rebbe or any leader serves not just by imparting wisdom but by taking the time to understand and listen, to truly "bind himself in total oneness" with those they guide.
As we move through our daily interactions, let's strive not only to speak but also to listen. The balance between the two can offer unparalleled opportunities for personal growth and leadership effectiveness.
The wisdom of valuing listening is not just an old concept but a timeless necessity. It reveals the kind of compassionate and attentive leadership that will come to full fruition in the era of Moshiach.