Va’eira – Breathe Easy

When Moshe Rabbeinu first approached his enslaved brothers and sisters, they ignored him. Rashi notes their breathing was stressfully shallow and short. A person of faith sidesteps anxiety and stress to move forward in life, as did the Jewish people who regained belief after the ten plagues. In the opening passage of this week’s Parsha VaEira, Moshe Rabbeinu approaches the enslaved Jewish nation in Egypt and tries to inform them of their impending freedom. But they refuse to listen. Why? Rashi explains that they were simply so overworked and couldn’t listen. He explains that their anxiety showed through their breathing – shallow, quick, short breaths. Today we understand physiologically that under stress our breathing tends to quicken, while relaxed breathing is longer and abdominal. Observe a baby sleeping restfully and you will note the tummy rising up and down in a measured pace, rather than the chest heaving. But when a child is crying the chest heaves, and the breath intake quickens, to increase the immediate oxygen requirements of the stressed body. Training for a relaxation response one intentionally breathes from the abdomen rather than the chest, to induce a relaxed state. A person without a basic belief system will always be stressed, fearing future outcomes.  Faith invites inner peace, even if the future is unknown. Moshe encountered a Jewish people suffering from extreme stress from their ordeal. They first needed to experience the success of the ten plagues in order to restore their faith. And only then could they grow a stature that was ready to receive the Torah. Breathe easy. Keep the faith!