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It’s Always Been About the Breath

06/11/2020 09:26:43 AM


Beth Schafer

The beginning of March. It’s come to our doorstep; a virus that steals the breath. It’s spreading like wildfire. We need to stop what we’re doing to mitigate the spread. Humankind is choking.

Earth Day, April, reports are in. Pauses in production and commuting lead to a major drop in pollution. The earth is taking her first deep breath in a century.

Late May, George Floyd gasps his last breaths under the knee of a violent police officer. We scream in horror that a whole race of people have been suffocating for 400 years.

Hold your breath. Feel the discomfort. It is the conduit to life itself. We must be able to breathe. So many reminders in these past months about how precious our breath is. But these messages are not new.

God’s name, spelled yud-hay-vav-hay in Hebrew, is called the ineffable name of God. It can’t be intoned, nor can it be heard. The letters themselves have no hard consonants-only vowels and air. God’s name is breath. It is life. When we meditate we are told to concentrate on our breath. It is what keeps us, and yet we need to be reminded.

We are living through the most devastating of reminders. Let us enter this Shabbat noticing the breath, giving thanks for the breath, committing to protecting the breath of the other. To do so is to honor all that is embodied in God’s name.

I have written a song titled "I Can't Breathe" as a reflection on these troubling days. You can listen to it here:

Shabbat Shalom,


Mon, August 3 2020 13 Av 5780