Emanuel Synagogue

Being present in body, mind and spirit - Rabbi Dr Orna Triguboff


This week we begin reading the second of the 5 books of Moses, the Book of Exodus, and we hear about the enslavement of the Children of Israel in Egypt and the royal edict stating that each Israelite male must be killed at birth. Ways are found around this rule and when Yocheved gives birth to a boy, she saves his life by placing him in a basket in the river. The daughter of the Pharoah finds the basket and adopts the baby, calling him Moses, meaning “the one who is drawn from water”.

About this name, the 18th Century sage, the Magid of Mezeritch, explains that there are two main qualities in this world, Love and Restraint. The quality of Love is connected to the water element and Restraint to fire. Moses, being “drawn from water” embodies the quality of Love, whilst his brother Aharon, embodies restraint (more on this later).

We fast forward to a grown-up Moses, now living in Midian. One day whilst shepherding his flock, he sees an angel inside a burning bush, a bush which is on fire but is not consumed.

A divine voice calls him, just as it did Adam and Abraham, calling him by name twice: “Moses, Moses.” And he answers “Here I am, Hineini”.

Why twice? Mystics comment that the repetition of a person’s name means that they are called to be present both physically and in spirit. We can’t take for granted that people are always fully present.

How is this level of presence attained?

Upon drawing closer to the burning bush, Moses is instructed by God to “take his shoes off” as he is about to stand on holy ground.

Rabbi Gershon Winkler points out that this instruction can be understood as a command to go deeper into oneself and let go of the ordinary, routine trains of thought that inhabit our daily consciousness. Ordinary, mundane mental consciousness can limit us from connecting with our true potential called mochin d’gadlit ‘expanded consciousness’. By removing the ties that bind us, we can receive inspiration and courage to believe in ourselves. In Hebrew the word ‘shoe’ na’al comes from the same root as ‘lock’ man’ool and the word for leg regel from the same root as ‘routine’ hergel. Thus, from the Torah we see that the instruction: ‘take your shoes off your feet’ can be understood as a deeper instruction to ‘remove the restrictions from your way of being’.

Once Moses removes his shoes and steps into a mode of connection with the fullness of his potential, God instructs him to go to the Children of Israel in Egypt, and help them leave their miserable life of enslavement. To do this, he is going to have to plead their case to the Pharoah. Moses says he can’t do it, he won’t have the ability to speak in front of Pharoah. God reminds him that he has Aaron to help him. As the Magid of Mezerich said, Aaron, representing and embodying the element of fire and the quality of Restraint, would be able to complement Moses, representing water and the quality of Love.

Moses goes on to accept his mission and accept help from his brother – though there were to be many challenges along the way.

One message from Torah this week, is that when we feel we can’t achieve something, whether it be the smallest task or a large project, we need to seek out those who complement us. To do this, we need to be present, as in hineini – present in body, mind and spirit. If we let go of the regular limits we place on ourselves we can expand into new possibilities. We are also here to help others and compliment them in their goals.

This week may we be blessed to rise to new heights of believing in ourselves and seeking out help as needed.

If you are interested in Meditation within a Jewish context, we begin a free online 3 part series on 15 January, 9am, (which will also be recorded) here is the zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84243683294

For those who would like to recording link, please email me orna@emanuel.org.au.

Blessings for a week of discernment, love and compassion,

Rabbi Dr. Orna Triguboff


Emanuel Synagogue
7 Ocean Street
Woollahra, NSW 2025

Contact Us

p: 02 9389 6444

e: info@emanuel.org.au

Shabbat Times

Parashat Vayigash
Shabbat, December 26, 2020
11th of Tevet, 5781

Candle Lighting
Friday, December 25  7:49PM

Motzei Shabbat 8:25PM

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