TGIF Torah Yoga

"Stretching our bodies and souls"

Re-Souling Our Selves & Preventing Burnout  

In by Judy Schindler

Many of us are tired. We yearn for a day off. We yearn to find sacred time.  

Many of us are overwhelmed by the chaos of our weekday world. We yearn to find sacred space.

The final chapters of the book of Exodus offer us guidance in creating sacred time and building sacred space. Six days we are meant to work. The seventh day is our time to rest and to find renewal.  The Torah tells us that God created the world in six day and on the seventh God rested and was refreshed. The word for refreshed is “vayinafash.”  This word comes from the word nefesh which means soul. On the seventh day, God took time to re-soul Godself. If God needed re-souling how much the more so do we. Shabbat helps us re-soul. Yoga helps us re-soul. The wisdom of Torah helps us to re-soul. Getting out in the natural world help us to re-soul. Prayer helps us to re-soul.

There is a morning prayer that opens like this: “The soul that You have given me My God is pure. You created it, You formed it, and You breathed it into me.”

Breathing helps us to re-soul.

The final chapters of Exodus teach us about creating sacred space.  We are instructed to build a sanctuary – a place of refuge and a place for meeting God. What are our sanctuaries? Our homes. Our bedrooms. Our bodies. Our yoga studies. The outside world.

Are we spending enough time in those places that are our sanctuaries? Are we stopping to appreciate their beauty?

This week’s Torah portion called Tetzaveh teaches us that our sanctuaries need light. God tells Moses to command the Israelites to bring into the mishkan, our portable Temple, “Pure olive oil well beaten so that it might be used as fuel to cause a ner tamid – a light to burn continually.” 

The first eternal light was not some mystical light sparked by God, it was a light that needed to be lit by us every single day. Each evening the priests would enter the Tabernacle and keep the flame alive from evening till morning. 

Lights burn out when they are not nurtured. We burn out when we are not nurtured. We burn out when we do not tend to our bodies, to our minds, to our souls. What can we do to nurture our bodies? What can we do to nurture our minds? What can we do to nurture our souls?

This week’s Torah portion speak to clothing. The Priests in the ancient sanctuary were called to wear sacred clothing to lead – a breastpiece, a robe, a tunic, a turban and a sash. Items made with gold and blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen.

Clothing defines us.  At work we wear clothes – perhaps suits, perhaps business casual, perhaps medical scrubs. On Shabbat, we have the freedom to wear our comfort clothes – clothes that relax us, clothes that capture us, clothes that reflect us.

On Shabbat, we re-soul by wearing clothes not for others but for ourselves.

Just like we needed to tend to the flames of the ner tamid – the continually burning lamp in the ancient Temple, so we need to tend to the flames of our relationships. Like the spark that lights the Shabbat candles, the flames of our friendships need to be rekindled.

Sources of light abound in our lives, but if we do not tend to them, they will not bring us warmth.  We re-soul by re-kindling flames –  flames of friendship, flames of family, flames of passion – whatever our passion is.  

Light is above us, through the sun that lights up the sky.

Light is around us, in the people in this place.

Light is inside us, in our souls.

Shabbat is our times to celebrate that light and to re-soul ourselves.

Generously funded by the Lenora Stein Community Creative Learning Grant.