Parshat Yayishlach: Communication- The Key to Intimacy.

By Sherrie B. Miller

Jewish Singles Intimacy

“And Yaakov commanded his messengers saying: This is what you should say to my master to Aisav. This is what your servant Yaakov said: with Lavan I have dwelt and have been delayed until now.” (breishit 32:5)

HaRav Zelig Pliskin, in his book “Growth through Torah”, quotes the Ohr Hachayim who explains that the added details given by Yaakov to his brother are intended to infuse a sense of brotherly love into their unfortunately strained relationship. Sharing one’s personal and innermost feelings as well as expressing the ups and downs of one’s life creates a special closeness and emotional bond between people.

“The three most important words for a successful relationship are communication, communication, and communication.” Increasing the level of intimacy in a relationship will depend on the quality of one’s styles, patterns and skills in communication.

Good communication is comprised both of the ability to express oneself by putting one’s feelings into words, and by the skill of active listening, not just hearing but understanding what the other is saying and lies beyond the words.

Unfortunately, men have been trained by society to inhibit their emotions for fear of being labeled “sissies” or “effeminate”. Modern research cited by renowned psychologist and author, John Gray, asserts that the apparent difference in communication styles between men and women is simply a result of the way our brains are wired. Men are more fact/information and solution oriented, while women have a greater capacity to think and feel simultaneously.

Women have been taught by their mothers that if you want a guy to be interested in you, be interested in him. So women tend to ask many questions on dates, trying to uncover the depth of the person sitting opposite them, while guys do all the talking. She thinks that he is “full of himself” and he thinks: “she has nothing to say.” This can wreak havoc in the early stages of dating leading to termination of the relationship even before it begins. Awareness of these natural physiological differences can alleviate many doubts and uncertainties that develop in the early stages of dating as a result of misunderstanding.

“We were born with two ears and one mouth. That ought to tell us something.” (Bits and Pieces 1997). Usually, we prefer and find it easier to speak than to listen. Listening seems to take more effort. It is being in a state of temporary and complete identification with another human being, in other words, attempting to be “in his shoes.” Since, we are naturally an egocentric species, this is a most difficult thing to do. It requires putting my-self aside and “holding” an-other person within me.

Often in dating, we are impressed with the bubbly, talkative type; yet we fail to take note of their capacity to listen beyond the words, to the feelings and sentiments behind the words. For intimacy to be achieved there must be a desire to uncover the “golden nuggets” embedded within each of us by engaging in deep and meaningful conversations that evoke genuine emotions. Superficial, light conversations will not give us a true reading of compatibility even though they seem to flow effortlessly.

(For additional practical tools on active listening, refer to my article: The Art of Listening.)

The three most common styles of communication are “passive”, “aggressive” and “assertive” corresponding to sardines, sharks and dolphins. Dolphins or assertiveness represent the preferred “golden path” for its high level of efficacy. When two people can express what they would like and what they need in a deferential way, then they achieve a win-win outcome and nurture a vital and growing relationship.

Finally, by paraphrasing the sender’s message to ensure that he/she was understood will alleviate misunderstandings and enable both receiver and sender to feel comfortable and satisfied in their ability to communicate meaningfully.

Communication is a skill that can and must be learned and practiced in order to build a loving and successful relationship!


Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish matchmaker on SawYouAtSinai and a dating coach in Jerusalem. She received her counseling degree from the Michlala in Jerusalem and an M.A. in Jewish Education from Touro College. 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.

This Jewish Dating Column is brought to you by SawYouAtSinai, the Jewish Matchmaking service. Articles are often written by Jewish matchmakers, to help Jewish singles connect.

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