Transcending Fight or Flight

Transcending Fight or Flight

“When in doubt, do nothing. Let the situation evolve around you.”

This was something my late husband, Rav Berg, would often say. We see this concept illustrated at many a turning point throughout the Bible, including this week’s portion of Beshalach – most famous, perhaps, for the splitting of the Red Sea. At The Kabbalah Centre, we consider this to be one of the most important Shabbat connections of the year as it contains the 72 Names of God, the tool by which Moses was able to part the water so the people could escape Pharaoh’s army safely.

As the Israelites faced the Sea in front of them, with Pharaoh and his army charging from behind, the nation had to make a choice. The Zohar reveals there were four reactions from the people. The first group among them said, “Let’s just jump into the sea. We’re done for anyway!” The second group said, “Let’s go back and surrender!” The third group said, “We must fight!” The fourth option came from Moses himself, who said, “Let the Creator perform His wonders for us.”

The first three are the most common reactions we experience when we face our own Red Sea, a challenge that seems all but insurmountable. Our first instinct is often to give up, go back, or give in altogether! What the Israelites were experiencing was something more commonly referred to today as: Fight or flight syndrome. It’s human nature, really. We have a primitive instinct for survival, and that instinct tells us that we need to control people or the outcome of things. “Fight or flight” can take many different forms, showing up as rage, violence, blame, surrender, withdrawal, or compliance just to name a few. Yet, there is a third option, which transcends fight or flight: Certainty.

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