The world is a very loud place. We often find that our ears are constantly filled with the sounds and words and noise. Overwhelmed, we can find it hard to hear our own thoughts or to sense the promptings of our hearts, and we become distant from ourselves. These weeks of preparation for the New Year offer us a way back. We are reading the book of Deuteronomy, in which Moses is constantly exhorting the people, "Sh'ma! - Listen!" We need to take that advice. Finding a quiet spot and a quiet time to listen in silence, even for five or ten minutes, can help us reconnect with ourselves. The hours of the High Holiday services also provide ample time for this kind of quiet listening. In the silence, we can listen for what our hearts need, what they are calling out for. We can listen for the pain that may be hidden there as well as the joy that may have been drowned out by the noise of the world. If we listen closely enough, we may even discern the next steps on our path toward change and growth. May we all embrace the blessings of silence as we approach the New Year together.