How often do we get up in the morning and feel a natural need to stretch our muscles? Naturally, since we have not used them much when we were asleep, we need to “warm up” and to “stretch” our bodies in order to feel ready to take on the new day.
The same is true for our souls!
Our weekly Torah portion tells us that the Israelites didn’t respond to Moses and Aaron’s call to freedom because of two things: Kotzer Ruach [often translated as “impatience”] and Avodah Kashah [hard work].
Literally, in Hebrew, the words Kotzer Ruach mean shortness of spirit or shortness of soul. In order to refresh our bodies, we need to stretch. In like fashion, we must refresh our souls and stretch our spirit in order to appreciate our potential to cope with the ups and downs of life.
The Israelites were mired in their slavery. They were not only oppressed physically, but also spiritually. Their souls were “shortened”; their vision was narrowed. When Moses and Aaron first approached them, they could not see a way forward toward freedom. It was first and foremost because of Kotzer Ruach, and only secondly because of the Avodah Kashah, the hard physical work they were forced to do.
We are most often aware of our need to stretch our bodies. But, how often do we notice when our souls are in need of “stretching”?
The story of the Exodus reminds us that “soul stretching” is of prime importance in our personal as well as in our communal lives.
This Shabbat we will be reciting the Blessing of the New Jewish Month. Rosh Chodesh Shevat will be on Sunday night and Monday of this coming week. May it be a month of health, of happiness and of peace and, most especially, a month of “soul stretching”!
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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