Psalm 146

Adonai releases the bound; Adonai restores sight to the blind; Adonai makes those who are bent stand straight. (146:7-8)

Each of these three phrases has been adapted into the morning liturgy in a series of blessings focusing on the experience of waking up, regaining one’s consciousness and identity, rising out of bed, and getting dressed.

Movement is critically important to our health. Physical problem abound when we spend too much time sitting or lying down. For those experiencing weight- or age- or other health-related issues, getting out of bed can be a task requiring significant exertion. It’s simply easier not to move than to move. It’s comfortable to remain bound up in one’s bed or easy chair. It hurts to release the limbs from their curled up position, straighten the spine to sit up, and lean forward to stand. We might rather keep our eyes closed, not only to let us sleep longer, but to ignore both the short term physical toll that activity demands of us, and the long term degradation of our body that non-activity takes from us.

The easy and comfortable path leads to weak muscles, poor balance, back pain and other problems. God created our eyes, literal or metaphorical, to look at our body honestly and see the problems associated with failing to use it properly. The core of Judaism celebrates the exodus from Egypt and freedom from oppression. God gave us a free range of movements that we can do with our bodies, and unless we exercise each one of them, we will find ourselves slowly losing that freedom. Whether we move by ambulating our feet or pushing wheels with our arms or pushing a joystick that turns our chair, we can use our eyes, hands, arms, or legs to see where we want to go and propel us in the proper direction.

So sit forward in your bed or your chair, align your spine one vertebra on top of the next, take a deep breath, and enjoy the body that God gave you!

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