How can I say "to listen to" in Hebrew - as in to listen to music. I have found two verbs: lishmoa and lehakshiv.
What's the difference between the two? Which is the preferred way of saying this?
There are three roughly semantically equivalent verbs:
Lishmoa' is the most general, meaning "to hear" as well as "to listen."
Lehaazin is used in more formal registers and means "to listen." (It's always transitive.)
Lehaqshiv involves focusing ones auditory attention on something. A question like "Are you listening (to me)?" would be expressed with lehaqshiv.
I may be mistaken, but when an Israeli wishes to say, "Listen!", he usually uses הַקְשֵׁב (or, more colloquially, תּקְשִׁיב). However, if the thing/person to be listened to is being specified, he will usually use שְׁמַע (or, more colloquially, תִּשְׁמַע), followed by the thing as the direct object.
שְׁמַע בדיחה! "Listen to a joke (that I'm about to tell you)!"