Va’eira – The Breath Test

The appearance of a white robed savant was a major event in ancient Egypt. But his message of saving the Jewish nation fell on deaf ears. The people wouldn’t listen because of “shortness of breath” – meaning shallow chest breathing associated with stress. By changing the way we breathe we can relax our bodies. The Jewish people were anything but relaxed, leading to their initial rejection of Moses. Notes: A man walks out of the desert and claims to be the savior of the slave nation known as the Israelites. People stare at this elderly, bearded, white robed stranger with strange fascination, because he uses words and terms that they recall from days of yore – words and phrases that had been passed down in whispers for two generations. But initial surprise soon gives way to cynicism. No slave has ever escaped Egypt let alone a whole nation. And the Torah uses a strange expression to describe the Jewish response – kotzer ruach – shortness of breath. Which can mean two things – out of breath or taking short breaths. We now know that stress becomes expressed through the style of breathing. Deeper abdominal breathing reflects a relaxed state. Shallow and quickened chest based breathing expresses stress. The Torah is therefore describing the extreme state of stress of the Jewish people, so much so that they couldn’t pay attention to the grandeur of even a Moses. We now know that a biofeedback technique of changing our breathing style from chest to abdomen actually relaxes the body. In a state of stress our capacity to concentrate and focus is limited. And this was the state of the Jewish people. And that’s why they ignored the words of the prophet. For a clear mind and focused attention, breathe deeply down to the abdomen.