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Starting off by taking a deep breath

01/03/2019 12:51:05 PM

Jan3

Rabbi Laura J. Abrasley

I took a much-needed break the past few days from email and work. I spent precious time with family and friends, read a few entertaining novels and took a trip into Boston for a pizza tour in the North End (so fun!). My time away was lovely, a chance to catch my breath and recharge my “battery.” I came back refreshed and renewed, ready to focus on the tasks at hand.
Many studies have found that pausing, even for a moment, to relax and reboot is essential for achieving productivity, success, and a positive outlook on the future. The human brain, much like the rest of the human body, is simply not made for the extended, sometimes non-stop focus today’s work life can demand. Working too much is not the answer to our ever-increasing work load. It causes more stress, not less.
Our Torah portion this week,
Va’era, points to the challenge of what can happen when we forget to take a moment to pause, to collect ourselves and catch our breath, before we move onto our next task. The Israelites, who have been living under Egyptian rule for several generations, have a hard time believing Moses when he reports that that God will redeem them from slavery. The text suggests they cannot hear Moses’ message because of their kotzer ruach, literally translated as “shortness of breath,” but perhaps better understood as “shortness of spirit.” They are so overworked they cannot hear anything anymore, not even the potential for a new way of life.
Our lesson this week is to learn from their misfortune. While we are not still physically enslaved like our ancestors in Egypt, we, too, can suffer from a
kotzer ruach when we forget to stop and take a breath. How can we honor the message that our bodies and our minds need a break? How can we find regular ways that allow us to catch our breath and balance our lives?  What do we need to change our mindset from a “shortness of spirit” to an “expansion of spirit”? Perhaps we can start by taking a deep breath

Wed, June 19 2019 16 Sivan 5779