Friday, January 25, 2013

Parshat Bashalach

 Exodus 14:10  Pharaoh drew near, and the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold! the Egyptians were advancing after them. They were very frightened, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.
Exodus 14:19-21 Then the angel of God, who had been going in front of the Israelite camp, moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved away from in front of them and stood behind them.  And he came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel, and there were the cloud and the darkness, and it illuminated the night, and one did not draw near the other all night long. And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord led the sea with the strong east wind all night, and He made the sea into dry land and the waters split.

When we are being pursued by powerful forces that frighten us, when we are stuck with no where else to go, what can we do? We must pause and make a space. We must withdraw just enough, not engage directly in a fight. In that pause, we breathe. Centering on the breathe, insight arises and we miraculously see a new way forward opening before us.

When pursued by the frightening events of life, may we find the strength to pause, to reflect, to draw breath. And may we then discover a new way forward.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Parshat Va-ayra

Parshat Va-ayra - Exodus 7:22: after the water turns to blood:”… and Pharaoh’s heart remained strong, and he did not listen to them.”
Exodus 9:34: after the hail stopped: “ he continued to sin: he made his heart heavy”

When first faced with Moses’ demands, Pharaoh’s heart was strengthened. Is this not a good thing? Pharaoh had to deal with a very difficult situation, a potential rebellion, a potential revolution. He needed to respond with strength and wisdom.  But Pharaoh used his strength to not listen.  This is the sin – to not listen fully.  And because of this refusal to listen, Pharaoh’s heart became heavy with rigidity.

May we use our strength to listen even to very difficult messages, so that our heart does not become so rigid, so hard, and so heavy that we cannot go forward.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Parshat Shemot

Ex. Ch. 1:8 – “Now there arose a new king of Egypt, who knew not Joseph.”

This line may be read as: “And now there arose a new ruler over the narrow places (mitzraim) within ourselves, who knew not the tzaddik, the yearning to connect with the holy one of blessing within us.

This week I had a skiing accident (non-life threatening) on a family vacation in West Virginia.  All of the temptations of ego arose and arise, like self-pity and fear over the length of recovery.  All this week I have been struggling to remember what I have learned in meditation, which is to try to not suppress these desires and fears, but to allow these emotions to arise and watch them burn like the bush in the parsha, but not be consumed by them.

May we, like Shiphrah, Puah, Miriam, and Moses of this parsha have the bravery to resist external oppression, but may we also have the courage and patience to respond wisely to doubt and anxiety within.