Va’eira: Shortness of Breath

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Va’eira: Shortness of Breath

Welcome to Shabbat Moment, a text study series with Yael Shy, from our friends at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. Every week we share Yael’s Torah text study, mindfulness practice tips, and discussion questions for you to reflect + share with others at your Shabbat table. Subscribe here to get the Shabbat Moment delivered straight to your inbox!

This week’s Torah portion is Va’eira: Shortness of Breath.

At the top of this parsha, the Israelites are promised redemption from slavery and a new kind of intimate relationship with the Divine, the likes of which they have not yet experienced.

The Israelites, however, cannot take in this information.

We have a people that are so deeply worn down, oppressed and miserable that they are despairing about the future. This despair is made manifest in their bodies – not just with exhaustion, but with an inability to breathe deeply. In that shallow-breathing, and despair-filled place, no beautiful words about redemption and freedom have the chance to break through.

In my experience, this is an apt description of despair. Despair is different from sadness, fear or even suffering. One can experience any of those difficult emotions or states of being and still have space in the mind and heart for the possibility of the unknown future – of things changing. In despair, one believes that there is only one answer you need, and it is no. Nothing will change. There is no hope and no possibility. 

About the Author

Yael ShySpecial thanks to Yael Shy and our friends at the Institute for Jewish Spirituality for joining us in creating weekly Shabbat moments for your Friday nights.

Yael Shy is the CEO of Mindfulness Consulting, LLC, where she teaches and consults on mindfulness for universities, corporations, and private clients around the world. She is the author of the award-winning book, What Now? Meditation for Your Twenties and Beyond (Parallax, 2017), and the founder of Mindful NYU, the largest campus-based mindfulness initiative in the US. Yael is a graduate of the IJS Jewish Mindfulness Teacher Training Certification.

OneTable empowers people who don’t yet have a consistent Shabbat dinner practice to build one that feels authentic, sustainable, and valuable. The OneTable community is funded to support people (21-39ish), not in undergraduate studies, and without an existing weekly Shabbat practice, looking to find and share this powerful experience.

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