Kenneth Cohen

Breathe to Be Happy

The explanation in the Torah for the skepticism of the Jewish people to initially get excited about their impending exodus from Egypt, is quite interesting.

The Pasuk tells us that they did not listen to Moshe because of “shortness of breath, and hard work.” Rashi comments that one who is of a low spirit has his breathing affected. This shortness of breath indicates a defeated attitude. When one is calm, relaxed, and happy, it is reflected in how he breaths.

When a person is unhappy or depressed, he is taking short, quick breaths, as opposed to the content person, who takes long, deep breaths. This is the difference between one who is calm and relaxed, or very nervous and pressured.

As we learn from the Jewish people in Egypt, their inability to breath properly affected their optimism. They finally meet their potential savior, who brings them hope for the future, and they are unable to believe.

It might be a good idea to pay attention as to how we normally breath. Perhaps if we start with regularly taking long, deep, relaxed breaths, we will realize that this can affect our overall approach in dealing with our challenges.

We are taught that we are to try to maintain a state of joy, always appreciating all that we have. The future is bright as long as it begins with breathing right!

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at