I’m trying to slow the engine down. Maybe it’s a midlife thing, maybe not. Regardless, along this journey I’ve discovered something interesting that I feel is connected to this week’s Parsha.

The mind (or the ego) is constantly working, it never stops thinking. We think about how we feel, we think about what we imagine others feel, we think about thinking for Hashem’s sake! It is exhausting up there.

Well thank G-d we don’t stop thinking because we’d not be able to function, but how do we balance the need for rest of the mind with the need for it to continue operations?

One of the ways is to breathe.  Answer this question; How do you know if you are breathing? Or, are you breathing?

Likely, you took a breath to know that you are breathing. The only way to know you are breathing is to breathe.  

Now here is something fascinating. When you are breathing you are not thinking (at least in the conventional sense). Put in other words, when you are breathing you are totally in the present.  Being in the present gives us rest from the mind work of the past and the future.  Being present also makes life real and authentic.

This week’s Parsha, Kedoshim, is all about laws on how we become holy and whole, bringing goodness and G-dliness into the world. And many of the laws have to do with how to treat each other.  That’s the place where much of the mindwork goes on – relationships positive and negative between people.

Breathing in, breathes in the life of Hashem, the Neshama (which means breath) which helps us get present. It helps us get out of the brain space of thinking and allows for us to move past judgement to be here fully for the other and in the service of Hashem.

Breathe in, breathe out and get present with yourself, your true self, your Neshama and with Hashem!

Good Shabbos!
Rabbi Mendel Schusterman

Thanks to my brother, Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman, of Chabad Intown, Atlanta, for sharing the above thought.