Dedicated to Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 39 years of bravery and life.
The Book of Exodus, the second book of Torah, is action packed.
The Egyptian Pharaoh decrees that all Hebrew baby boys should be put to death at their birth. (Yes, the Torah is Rated R.) Instead, the brave midwives defy the decree, Moses lives and his industrious mama nurses him in hiding. Then, with audacious faith, his mother places him in a basket in the Nile. Moses is drawn out of the river by Pharaoh's own daughter and raised in the Egyptian palace. Only verses later, in Exodus 2:11, Moses is grown and "goes out to his brothers." He leaves the palace walls and begins his journey of independence and self-definition.
Within moments, Moses is confronted; he witnesses an Egyptian strike a Hebrew. Moses turns this way and that and, according to verse 2:12, there is no man, ein ish, around. He then kills the Egyptian.
How can we understand this phrase ein ish, there is "no man"?
Perhaps it means simply that no one else was watching Moses. I recently heard Rabbi Judy Shanks, of Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, CA, raise the question that perhaps Moses looks and finds not only no man, but no mentsh? There was no up-right person willing to handle the conflict, including himself, with words or justice or listening rather than killing. Rabbi Shanks offered the image of Moses looking one way to the Egyptian palace where he was raised, and then towards his Hebrew mother's home, and at that moment that he realized he belonged to neither. There was no man present, not even himself.
Or, does the phrase to "look this way and that," also in verse 2:11, refer to an existential moment of reflection to guide his hands? Are we, and Moses, contemplating: do I act according to habit or choose a new path? Do I hold on to the past or dream into the future?
While these are interesting questions, what is exciting and surprising to me about this phrase ein ish is that it seems like a different type of opportunity. It feels like a pregnant pause. There could be birth or death; it's a pause in our automatic, automated, expected lives. We actually catch ourselves on the treadmill and turn it off.
In this "no man's land" we are fresh. We are available for shift and possibility. We are, or have the potential to be, someone other than we know ourselves to be thus far. This moment of opportunity, hezdamnut, is indeed all about the moment, the zman.
Have you had a moment like this recently, when you felt a spaciousness open or an opportunity for fresh behavior emerge? What happened next?
Personally, I try to cultivate these types of pregnant pauses and unscripted next steps. Through meditation, prayer and coaching, I've made headway and would like to share some of my personal tools and resources with you. Energy Packs are designed to jump start this type of life reflection and practice so that we begin to catch our patterns, make adjustments and bring more productive flow and positive energy into our lives.
* On the title: Does Opportunity "Knock"? Hopefully no one get's knocked out, even metaphorically through negative talk or deed, in the process of discovering the opportunity at hand. Violence, as King taught, is not the way, only love:
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Illustration by Barbara Griffiths found at http://www.barbaragriffiths.com.