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Opposites still attract attention!

February 2, 2017

Opposites still attract attention” – Title of Greg Baum’s column in the Sunday Age before the Federer vs Nadal Aus. Open Final

Torah Portion (“Parsha”) Bo in a nutshell from

This week we conclude the ten plagues with the plagues of locusts, darkness and the death of the first-born. The laws of Passover are presented, followed by the commandment to wear tefillin, consecrate the first-born animal and redeem one’s first born son. The Torah tells us that at some time in the future your son will ask you about these commandments and you will answer: “With a show of power, God brought us out of Egypt, the place of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us leave, God killed all the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike. I, therefore, offer to God all male first-born (animals) and redeem all the first-born of sons. And it shall be a sign upon your arm, and an ornament between your eyes (Tefillin), for with a strong hand the Almighty removed us from Egypt.” (Ex. 13:15)

* * *

img_3187We live in a world of contradiction, conflicts, opposites and many other things that don’t always make sense.

In last week’s Parsha, Rabbi Allon Ledder spoke about the plague of hail and what we can learn from the hail. YES, inside each hailstone was fire. How can hail and fire go together? Thus, if something wasn’t damaged by the hail, it was burnt by the fire! (See link to Rabbi Ledder excellent Blog below[i] )

A few weeks back I noticed that my former triathlon coach was starting a Barbells and Beers class[ii]. I thought does this combo go! Everyone knows that coffee goes with cycling or for some people without quoting names, “I am only cycling for the coffee!”

There are many conflicts and opposites again in this week’s Parsha. The opening of this week’s Parsha G-d commands to Moses: “Bo el Paroh”. All too often this is translated (or rather mistranslated) as, “Go to Pharoah.” But in fact, “Bo” clearly means ‘come’, not go. I read a beautiful piece from Chaya Lester’s on her explanation of this paradox[iii] that I will share.

“Thus, in our parsha, one paradox is that coming and going are essentially joined. The Zohar, playing off of the word Bo, portrays G-d ushering Moses from chamber into innermost chamber, until he comes face to face with a mighty serpent, the inmost symbolic core of Egypt. The message is that in order to leave Egypt, Moses had to fully come to, enter and encounter Egypt’s very heart of darkness. There is no leaving without first fully entering.

But even more paradoxical than that is the very fact that G-d calls Moses to ‘Come to Pharoah’ as if G-d Himself was somehow there with Pharoah….sitting on Pharaoh’s sleeve – nay, within his very skin. The implicit message of “Bo” is thus G-d’s alluring promise that when you come to Pharoah, you are coming to Me.  

And so it is in our personal lives. When we face Pharoahs, then we find G-d. I see it daily in my own life and in my work as a psychotherapist. Our Pharoahs are more often than not, ruling our most intimate interactions with our partners, parents, children and friends. We are all in some way enslaved by poor communication and misunderstandings. When we avoid these conflict areas then resentments fester and love and intimacy are slowly bled out of our lives. But when we engage the conflict, finding ways to courageously talk through the misunderstandings, then our relationships flourish. When we face our fears, our foes, our fiends, we find their very opposite – freedom, release, G-d”

But there are some combo’s that I do not think go, like!

  • Democracy and discrimination Mr Trump. I don’t normally delve into politics, but I recently heard a quote that sitting on the fence is like supporting the oppressor, so I won’t sit on the fence. I fully agree with the words of Chief Rabbi Mirvis “President Trump has signed an Executive Order which seeks to discriminate against individuals based on their religion or nationality. We, as Jews, more than any others, know exactly what it’s like to be the victims of such discrimination. It is totally unacceptable.”
  • Naked Workouts???[iv] The Trainer argues “For example, if you are doing a plank but wearing baggy exercise clothes, it is hard to tell if you have the correct form or not.”
  • Then there’s the title to another – It’s been described[v] as “the marriage of two great loves – beer and yoga“. Not sure what Guru Singh who I mentioned in my last blog would say, but as the article says “…this cocktail of dexterity, strength, trying not to spill your beer (of course) and partner poses, is a definite departure from traditional yoga…”

I think the opposites I mentioned in my title attracted us all to a very memorable final, possibly these other weird combos’ may attract us to do more and there are lessons to be learnt from the paradox in the Parsha. Not sure of the attraction to Trump’s Executive Order as the Dow dropped[vi] and there seem to be some very unhappy sportsman and business owners.

BUT, these gimmicky ideas for exercise are all well and good if they attract people to participate in an active lifestyle, but as Roger Federer says – “There is no way around the Hard Work. Embrace it!” 

…. There is one combo that does not sit well with me in this day and age when there is a move away from sugar? Tennis player Maria Sharapova has launched a range of chocolates and lollies (which are Kosher certified) Sugarpova. To quote Maria “I’ve been an athlete pretty much my entire life, where the intersection of work, play and training has often found a little something sweet mixed in…” Should such a sports icon be prompting SUGAR? BUT you do have to commend her as she has applied the drive and commitment that she’s developed as an elite athlete to all her projects off court, too. Sugarpova, is sold in over 30 countries in stores including Macy’s in New York….

I loved this quote in a review of the Movie Moonlight  of two images that do not seem to go! – “A gangster, who wears fake gold teeth — or grills — but remains a vulnerable, insecure person inside

Not sure if I have ever mentioned a movie in my Blog. Loren and I watched Moonlight. Why I am mentioning it is I felt that it dealt with a lot of personal and family conflicts which kind of fitted in with the blog. There is the conflict between the image you portray and what you are and the conflict within yourself to accept who you are. “So much is left unsaid in Moonlight. But nothing is left unfelt.” – LEIGH PAATSCH (Herald Sun)[vii]

To end a quote from Roger Federer that continues the theme of contradictions – “I fear no one, but respect everyone,” from a great article[viii] on the Five lessons in success from tennis champion Roger Federer.










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One Comment
  1. Mom permalink

    Ian I loved this blog, very interesting to look at ‘opposites’ in that light & it makes sense! Certainly encourages you to look at things differently. Good quotes. Well done.

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