Sh'ma When You Shmooz: a Yiddish Lessson

This is a guest post by Rabbi Michael Adam Latz at Shir Tikvah in Minneapolis.
Sitting on my desk is a small box of “all–purpose Yiddish knowledge cards,” by Ira Steingroot. Each card contains a different Yiddish word or expression: Tsuris (trouble), mish-mosh (a disorderly mess), and shadchan (matchmaker) are a few examples.
Leafing through the cards on a sunny May afternoon, I came upon the word shmooz, meaning intimate, relaxed conversation between good friends. While I knew the definition, I wasn’t aware that the root of the Yiddish word shmooz is the same as the Hebrew word sh’ma, listen.
When in a genuine conversation, Steingroot explains, “both parties talk, but also listen.”
Fascinating—the core of speaking and listening is the same.
How we communicate matters.
The Talmud teaches that God gave us two ears and one mouth. Use them proportionately.
This is sage advice from wise souls.
Holiness can be discovered “panim el panim”—face to face. As the summer warmth brings forth new life, allow yourself the opportunity to shmooz with loved ones. Listen. Embrace the opportunity to be with mishpocha (loved ones). Remember “Mensch tracht und Gott lacht.” People plan and God laughs.
Relax a bissel (a little bit). It’s a good way to live as a mensch (a good soul).