Saturday, November 27, 2010
Write from the heart
I listened to a lecture by Rabbi Reisman tonight. Interestingly, it was about the importance of effective verbal and written communication as a Torah value. He brought a number of examples from letters by great Rabbis of yesteryear writing about the importance of effective, clear and thought through communication. He pointed out that while modern technology allows us to send more messages more quickly and is good for speedy communication of facts, it lacks emotion and relationship building and relationship enhancing qualities that letter writing of the past, now almost a forgotten art, used to convey. I read an article recently about what's the minimum one should teach if one is limited in time or energy and the author recommended that at the minimum one should teach/read good quality literature because that will teach all the important communication skills, speech, vocabulary, grammar, good writing, and some math. Her point was that usually these are the skills that are tested by standardized tests. So teaching proper communication both verbal and written is basic to any good education program. So I would like to suggest that besides reading quality literature both Jewish and not Jewish, one should also read many letter collections, halachic responsa, polemics, primary historical documents, diaries, famous speeches, etc to the same end. But even on a more personal level, read to your children the family letters and cards that you saved, write letters and notes to each other, use good vocabulary in everyday speech, help them write divrei Torah for a Shabbos table or a family gathering. It's important to teach good writing and editing skills and good public speaking skills because they contribute to development of good analytical skills. One could actually see it today, that the disintegration of effective communication goes hand in hand with breakdown of analytical abilities. Needless to say both those skills form the underlying foundations of all learning. Good communication doesn't have to be a lost art even in the age of texting.