Jewish Journal


January 20, 2012

Kosher Sutra: Be a Contender (Vayeira)


We have no shortages of excuses to excuse our lack of success.‘If only I had a better education’. ‘If only I had more money’. ‘If only I was born into another family’. Perhaps the most famous excuse is from Marlon Brando’s 1954 film On the Waterfront when he famously lamented “I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody”.

Moses has a problem, or so he thinks. When asked to lead the people out of slavery he explains to God that it’s impossible, after all, “how will Pharoah listen to me? And I have blocked lips” (Exodus 6:12).

Let’s do a quick, deep re-reading. Moses is explaining to God something that is impossible to do on earth. If God created the earth, surely he knew what was possible and what wasn’t? In case we missed it the first time, it’s repeated again that ‘Moses said before God, “Behold! I have blocked lips so how shall Pharoah hear me?” (6:30).

The yogis were well aware of the issue of blocked energy. They identified thousands of energy channels within the body –  the nadis – with the three central ones being the ida (left column), pingala (right column) and shushumna (central column). Kundalini yoga focuses on unblocking these channels through the pranayamic yogic breath.

The yogis’ ideas are reflected in the kabbalah with the three channels clearly demonstrated in the sefirot/tree of life…but as I mentioned, this is a quick, deep reading, so this week we don’t have much airtime for tangents!

Moses was convinced that he wasn’t up to the job. He described his mouth as ‘Aral Sefatayim’ which translates as ‘blocked lips’, ‘sealed lips’ or even ‘uncircumcised lips’. The last image can be helpful as we consider that sometimes we have to ‘circumcise’ our self-image, i.e. to take a metaphorical knife and cut away our excuses. This can hurt! It is much easier to stay clothed in the warmth of our own reasons for not being a success.

This week’s Bibliyogic challenge is to clear internal blockages. A basic pranayama breath is to inhale and exhale through your nostrils. Consider meditating on how you might be using an excuse as a reason not to pursue an important goal.

The path isn’t easy. Moses faced challenges, but he was able to succeed when he was able to stop blocking his own success. That is when ‘God spoke through Moses’ (Exodus 9:35). Perhaps we are able to truly get out of own way, that is the path to being a contender.

Marcus J Freed is the creator of Bibliyoga (www.bibliyoga.com), President of the Jewish Yoga Network (www.jewishyoganetwork.org) and CEO of Freedthinking (www.freedthinking.com
). He lives in Los Angeles.


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