PARSHAT SHMOT: COMMUNICATION AT ITS BEST!
By Sherrie B. Miller
“During those many days, it happened that the king of Egypt died, and the Children
of Israel groaned because of the work (“min ha”avoda”) and they cried out. Their
outcry because of the work (“min ha’avoda”) went up to G-d. G-d heard their moaning,
and G-d remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. G-d saw
the Children of Israel; and G-d knew.” (Shmot: 2:23)
What is communication? The Hebrew word for communication is aptly called: tikshoret,
from the word kesher. Kesher means connection, a mechanism to bring about unification
and integration between people.
The Torah, in Parshat Shmot refers to the “anacha,” inner sighing, an expression
of pain and suffering. It was an inner expression of the awful difficulties bnei
yisrael were experiencing that emerged from within in an “out-cry.”
The grief emerged “min,” (from the place of work). And G-d heard their outcry “from”
the work. It was from this place of struggle that they called out and from this
place of hurting that G-d connected with them to feel their pain. Hashem “heard”
their suffering and remembered His Covenant with the Children of Israel.
G-d saw the Children of Israel and G-d knew. G-d in all of His Glory came down to
the people as it were, to be with them in their agony. This is the first step in
building communication: stepping into another’s shoes and trying to feel what they
feel. Just as when a baby cries, our heart goes out to them and we do whatever is
possible to respond to their discomfort. We stop thinking of ourselves, remove our
personal needs and focus on the other’s needs. This way of connecting enhances one’s
sense of attachment to another and is the foundation for building trust.
When dating, couples often attempt to obtain a reasonable amount of factual information
relating to educational and job pursuits, number of siblings and occupations of
parents with little understanding of the strong emotional background, priorities,
fears, aspirations and attitudes conveyed behind the facts. Empathic listening creates
a “safe environment” wherein the listener conveys their desire and ability to project
themselves into the inner core of the speaker. This experience of truly listening
creates identification with another and can have a transformational life impact
on the listener as well.
The speaker will experience the feeling of being understood without judgment. The
speaker will feel the listener’s genuine interest in their story, as well. This
is the heart of communication and building a warm and “safe place” where I can be
The Sassover Rav remarked to his Chassidim that he learned the meaning of love from
two drunken Russians:
Igor stumbling out of the bar asked his friend: “Yuri, do you love me?”
Yuri responded: “I love you with all my heart.” Igor burst into tears and said:
“How can you say that you love me when you do not know what is troubling me?”
This story clearly illustrates the core skill necessary in communication: having
the self-confidence to restrict and diminish myself while allowing the other to
take center stage and fully express them self without judgment, interruption and
planning my response.
This is in effect what Hashem did at creation. According to Kabbalah G-d engaged
in “tzimtzum,” contraction as it were, in order to make room from the world and
This form of contraction whose goal is to re-unify with us as in the reunion of
husband and wife, requires a healthy sense of self-esteem. “Tzimtzum” has a reciprocal
effect when indeed it acknowledges the speaker and increases his/her confidence
while creating an atmosphere of authenticity and mutual caring.
This process is one that requires patience and persistence. Communication is the
key to intimacy. It cannot be rushed and the investment is well worth the effort.
Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish Matchmaker
on SawYouAtSinai.com and works with
Jewish Singles all over the world. She is an educational guidance counselor,
group leader, pre-marital coach, matchmaker and Judaic Studies teacher. Sherrie
is dedicated to promoting and enhancing emotional intelligence and communication
skills in conjunction with Torah values.
Sherrie received her educational counseling degree from the Michlalah in Bayit Vegan
and an M.A. in Education and Counseling from Touro College, Jerusalem, Israel. Sherrie
also holds a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Brooklyn College and a
B.Sc. from Yeshiva University in Jewish Education. Sherrie is certified by Midreshet
Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital couple’s
counselor and Kallah teacher.
Before coming to Israel in 1989 from Great Neck, New York, Sherrie taught Judaic
Studies at the North Shore Hebrew Academy. Sherrie also educated affiliated and
unaffiliated adults through the “Project Identity” outreach program under the directorship
of Rabbi Yaakov Lerner. Sherrie trained individuals and couples in the laws of Kashrut,
Guidelines of Parenting, Parshat Shavua and Pirkei Avot.
In her work as a Guidance Counselor in the national religious “Mamad” school, "Yehuda
Halevi", Sherrie instructed life skill workshops to students, parents and teachers,
with a focus on communication, conflict resolution and anger management. She also
leads support groups for children of divorce.
Sherrie is certified by the Life Center and leads Parenting workshops based on the
Faber/Mazlish workshops on, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids
Sherrie is an executive board member of the Emunah World Zionist Organization, Mibreishit,
led by Rav Motti Alon, and Nishmat led my Rabbanit Hanna Henkin.
Sherrie’s diverse background in counseling and teaching, combined with torah principles
and values contribute to the depth and quality of her success with clients. Lessons
drawn from her own life transitions make her coaching perspective uniquely inspirational.
Sherrie helps individuals clarify their goals and take masterful action steps to
reach them. Sherrie is professionally known for her guidance in the educational
system as well as her outstanding capabilities teaching interpersonal relationship
skills to groups and individuals.
Having made a number of successful matches resulting in marriage, Sherrie volunteers
as a matchmaker for SawYouAtSinai, an internet matchmaking site.