Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Sanctifying the Nostrils

Let’s continue out series on sanctifying the seven candles of the face, this time looking at sanctifying the nostrils. Rebbe Nachman’s follower Yitzchok Breiter states that one sanctifies the nostrils by taking “a long breath of patience, no mater what.” He derives this from the Rebbe’s advice that sanctifying the nostrils involves having fear of Heaven. Rebbe Nachman himself finds root in this idea from a verse in Isaiah (11:3):”V’haRiCHo ([Moshiach] shall be filled) with the fear of Hashem....” Due to the similarity between v’harRicho and Rei’aCH, the sense of smell, the Rebbe sees the nose as an allusion to fear of Heaven.

But what does fear of Heaven have to do with a long breath of patience? The answer is that one who has fear of Heaven realizes that ultimately all the trials and troubles of life, from the person who cuts you off in traffic to loss of a job or even illness (G-d forbid), stem from the will of Hashem. While we cannot control what happens to us, we can control how we react, and by acting with calm and patience, we in fact emulate Hashem himself. Hashem is described as “erech apayim,” literally “long nostriled,” suggesting how He is slow to anger and patient with us. He shows the kind of face we would expect from a calm person, relaxed and with clear flowing breath, instead of a face scrunched up in anger. By being patient with others, as Hashem is patient with us, we copy this trait, and avoid the faulty and harsh judgments that often accompany a sudden burst of anger. And not only do we gain greater mental clarity from exerting patience, we also gain better physical health, keeping at bay many of the health dangers that follow from stress and anger.

For more on attaining both inner and outer calm, I highly recommend The Trail to Tranquility, by Rabbi Lazer Brody.

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