Jewish Journal

Kosher Sutra: Scaredy-Cat (Shoftim)

by Marcus J Freed

September 2, 2011 | 11:41 am

Hawkeye, Radar, Hotlips and the staff at the 4077th M*A*S*H unit. Klinger's the one dressed as a nurse.

Kosher Sutra: “Let him go and return to his house, that he should not cause the heart of his brothers to melt, as his heart.” (Deut 19:8)

Bibliyoga Focus: Banish fear, breathe in the light.

As a child I used to sit with my father javascript:nullo()and watch MASH, the original medical drama that was set in the Korean war. One of the funniest characters was Corporal Klinger who was so desperate to get discharged from the army that he claimed insanity by dressing up in women’s clothing. He wasn’t a transvestite and his plan never worked but he did wear a fine selection of dresses and hats.

If Klinger had been in the Biblical army of Israel he wouldn’t have had to go such sartorial lengths, but would have been sent straight home. Our Kosher Sutra comes at the end of a list of people who don’t need to go to battle: those who have just built a house, planted a vineyard, recently betrothed a woman but not consummated the relationship…or are just plain scared.

Nachmanides explained that this wasn’t just a suggestion or an easy get-out clause; it was a commandment! If you don’t want to fight, we don’t want you in the army. He went deeper to explain that this potential soldier is a spiritual and physical liability because their fear represents a lack of ultimate faith in God and as a result they could actually help us to lose a battle by weakening the spirits of other soldiers.

A little fear can go a long way. The yogis explained that fear is one of the key obstacles to attaining enlightenment. Abhinivesha, translated as ‘fear of death’ or ‘clinging to life’ is one of the kleshas (obstacles) which ignore our spiritual side and cause us to over identify with our body (Yoga Sutras 2:3).

This month is a period of intense spiritual growth, punctuated by the psalm “God is my light…who shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1). We focus on revealing and seeing Divine Light and reducing fear. If we allow just one fear to drive us, we can weaken our internal system. Everybody knows somebody who spends their life avoiding the pursuit of their dreams because they are held back by fear.

Just as the fearful soldier was banished from the army, we need to banish these fearful thoughts and be open to receiving the Light from beyond.


Marcus is the president of the Jewish Yoga Network, artist-in-residence for Jewlicious Festivals, and creator of Bibliyoga. Sign-up to receive your free Kosher Sutra.

Marcus’s touring schedule…

LOS ANGELES: Private client sessions on a weekly basis - please enquire for further details: marcus@bibliyoga.com

PITTSBURGH: 15th, 16th,17th - Bibliyoga @ Pittsburgh Hillel

PITTSBURGH: 17th - Bibliyoga @ Rodef Shalom community.

PITTSBURGH: 18th September - Bibliyoga @ Beth Shalom Community

PITTSBURGH: 18th Sept - performance of ‘Elijah’ - Hillel.

DETROIT: 24th Sept - Bibliyoga @ Adat Shalom community

DETROIT: 24th Sept - performance of ‘Solomon’ - JCC

DETROIT: 25th Sept - performance of ‘Elijah’ - JCC


PALM SPRINGS: 2nd-3rd January 2012, Pacific American Rabbis conference Bibliyoga workshops.

PALM SPRINGS: 3rd January 2012, Pacific American Rabbis conference - performance of ‘Solomon’.

LONG BEACH: February 2012 Jewlicious 8.0!!!!

NEVADA: Performances & workshops in Henderson, NV.

ENGLAND: Sometime soon. Let’s do it. Tell me when. In the meantime, I’m running low on teabags so please could you post some over? They sunk all of them here.

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Marcus J Freed is a studio-trained yogi, yeshiva-trained educator, published author, BBC broadcaster and classically-trained actor.  Marcus has developed a quartet of powerful...

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