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Labor contractions


“When one finds himself in trouble, God forbid, the heart suffers the most, as it says, (Proverbs 14) “The hearts knows the bitterness of the soul”. The heart understands the predicament and feels it the most. This is why when one finds himself in such a tough spot, all the blood rushes to the heart. Just like when there is trouble in a certain town, God forbid, all of its residents go to the wise man [the heart] of the town to receive advice. So too, when the body senses trouble, all the blood rushes up and floods the heart to receive some advice how to escape the trouble. In those troubling times, the heart is extremely pressured. Because not only does it understand the crisis even better than the rest of the body, but it is also flooded by the blood of the body. So it beats very fast, because it wants to send all the blood back to the body. And when the trouble passes, the blood flows regularly within the body. This is called ta’haluchos hadamim, literally meaning ‘the walking of the blood [back in its orderly flow]’…This is also the process of [an easy] birth. Like the Talmud says, (Sotah 11b), “when a woman crouches to give birth, her thighs get cold”. The blood rises from her thighs and tightens the uterus area. These contractions push the baby out and then the blood goes back to its normal flow”. (Tinyana 2)

My friend Yehuda Raice pointed out the other day how Rebbe Nachman’s amazing lesson is literally happening right now in our times. In this time of lockdown, we’ve lost the blood of our legs. The legs are a physical embodiment of the sefiros Netzach and Hod. The legs are the limbs that bring us out into the world, whether for good, as King David sang (Psalms 119) “I considered my ways and returned my legs to Your Torah”, or for evil, as we say in the Yom Kippur confession that our “legs were running to evil” (ריצת רגליים להרע). We can no longer go out and engage with the world in the way that we were previously able to. We have, so to speak lost our legs. Now, in this time of distress, all the blood is flooding the heart. This means that all of our blood is now active in the upper middos of the nefesh, Chessed Gevurah and Tiferes, which is around our torso, the place where our heart resides. This is the place of inner work, of finding personal peace within oneself, before engaging with the world.

Earlier in the lesson, the Rebbe speaks about appreciation. He says that the feeling of gratitude is the the delight of the World to Come, because the next world is the place where we will know Hashem, as it says, Isaiah (11), “The whole world will know Hashem”.  When you know someone for real, that means you can appreciate them, and through this recognition, gratitude and knowledge, you’re closer to them. This is why the only sacrificial offering that will never cease is the thanksgiving offering, because gratitude is the pleasure of the World to Come. He also says that Halacha (Jewish Law), specifically the application of Halacha to novel situations, (called Chiddushei Halacha), is the delight of the World to Come. Because when someone extends the halacha with a novel interpretation, it creates new knowledge of Hashem, and that is exactly the bedrock of the World to Come. This is why, says the Rebbe, that the thanksgiving offering (the todah offering – תודה) is also called halacha. As we said earlier, when someone gets out of trouble, the blood goes back to its normal flow. This ta’haluchos hadamim has the same root as the word halacha, to walk. When one experiences the relief of escaping trouble, his blood so to speak ‘walks’ again as usual and he brings a thanksgiving offering. The blood of a woman after birth also ‘walks’ again as usual. It is therefore customary to pray for a woman in labor by reciting Psalm 100, Mizmor L’todah, the song of a thanksgiving offering, because we are praying that she give birth and her blood ‘walks’ again as usual. The entire first verse of the psalm reads: מִזְמ֥וֹר לְתוֹדָ֑ה, הָרִֽיעוּ לַֽ֜יהֹוָ֗ה כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ “The song for a thanksgiving offering. Shout out to Hashem,  the entire earth”. The first letters of the words הָרִֽיעוּ לַֽ֜יהֹוָ֗ה כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ, is הלכה (halacha). 

We’re going through a premeditated process now. This was all prepared for us by Hashem. We’re inside. We have no use of our legs at this time. There is a lot of pain out there. But maybe it’s the wonderful pain of labor, which will bring a birth of something new? Maybe new da’as, (knowledge) is coming, which is the pleasure of the World to come. Then, we will finally have a new understanding and we will be forever grateful for this time. Please God. Amen!

רפואה שלימה לחיים מנחם בן לאה בתוך שאר חולי ישראל

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