chiddush logo

Body Language. Breathless Burdens: Coping with Pain.

Written by שי טחן, 11/1/2024


Breathless Burdens: Coping with Pain.

Rabbi Shay Tahan


Body language encompasses more than mere body movements; it also includes the way a person breathes. Someone's breathing can unveil significant cues about their emotional state.

For example, rapid or shallow breathing may indicate anxiety or stress, while slow and deep breathing often signals relaxation or calmness. Additionally, irregularities in breathing patterns, such as sudden changes or breath-holding, can provide valuable insights into moments of tension or discomfort.

Paying close attention to an individual’s breathing enables a deeper understanding of their emotional well-being.

There are additional indicators that someone is in distress. For instance when someone undergoes challenging experiences, their ability to concentrate, listen and pay attention in order to actively engage in a conversation often decreases. Observable behaviors, such as avoiding eye contact and appearing mentally distant, signal a lack of complete involvement in the discussion.

The absence of eye contact is a clear indicator of a disconnection between their thoughts and the ongoing conversation. Their gaze may wander, reflecting difficulty in concentrating on the discussion and processing the shared information.

Another sign of distress is when an individual struggles to accept condolences for a loss or encouragement during a difficult situation due to overwhelming emotions. This can be attributed to several reasons:

1. Intense Emotional State: The grieving process often involves strong emotions such as sorrow, sadness, anger, or shock. In such an emotionally charged state, individuals may have difficulty processing external expressions of sympathy.

2. Vulnerability: Grief can make individuals feel vulnerable and exposed. Accepting condolences may require them to open up emotionally, which can be daunting when they are already grappling with intense feelings.

3. Fear of Breaking Down: There may be a fear that accepting condolences could lead to a breakdown or an outpouring of emotions. Some individuals may try to maintain composure and may be hesitant to show vulnerability.

4. Personal Coping Mechanisms: Each person copes with grief differently. Some may prefer to process their emotions privately, and accepting condolences may feel like an intrusion into their personal space.

In our parasha (Va'eira), we learn about all those affects caused by distress. Moshe Rabenu attempts to inform the people of Israel that Hashem will soon lead them out of slavery and bring them into the land of Israel. However, when Moshe speaks to them, he observes that they cannot listen to him. The Torah clearly states the reason(שמות ו, ט) : "they did not heed Moshe because of shortness of breath and hard work."

Rashi teaches us that the reason they couldn't listen to him was because they were in a state of distress, making it difficult for them to accept consolation.

Then, Rashi continues to explain that when a person goes through a challenging time, stress can cause changes in their breathing. He elaborates that the breathing becomes shorter, indicating heightened intensity and rapidity.

Understanding these factors can help others approach grieving individuals with empathy and sensitivity, allowing them to navigate their grief at their own pace.

Observing these signs also aids in identifying such individuals, preventing negative judgments about their communication challenges. Understanding that they might respond in ways that are not pleasant, such as irritation, allows us to empathize when we recognize the underlying causes for their behavior, fostering compassion instead of frustration.

That is precisely what Moshe Rabenu does. When he sees and recognizes their emotional pain, he refrains from judgment or criticism.

We can glean valuable lessons from this parasha on how to compassionately treat those experiencing intense emotional pain.

To dedicate this Chiddush (Free!) Leiluy Nishmas,Refuah Sheleimah, Hatzlacha, click here
Agree? Disagree? Want to add anything? Comment on the chiddush!
Discussions - Answers and Comments (0)
This chiddush has not been commented on yet