Parashah of the week: Shemot

"Now the matter is known" Exodus 2:14


Have you ever walked into a room where there is an overpowering smell? It can almost feel suffocating, forcing a gut reaction of “get me out of here”.

People also have the ability to diffuse negative feelings into a room, without noticing that they are emitting this energy.

When a person is frustrated, angry or perhaps even nervous, their facial expressions or snappy comments create an environment that can make others feel uncomfortable. We all get upset at times and cannot be expected to hold a positive or encouraging countenance all day.

There is another way, though. Rather than unintentionally spreading this negative energy through words or actions, take a moment to check in with a friend or family member to help diffuse this pain in a healthy way. Instead of letting it seep out into our lives, we can process it with a caring individual, work out how to respond or deal, reframe the situation and thereby release the anger.

In this week's parashah, Moses wonders why the Jewish people are suffering so much under the Egyptians. After he heard that Dathan and Abiram have spread negative reports about him, he recognises the cause, as the verse says: "Now the matter is known.”

Our rabbis say that when lashon hara (negative speech) is spoken, it affects more than just the person who was slandered. Three people are harmed: the speaker, the listener and the one spoken about.

Speaking and hearing negative comments about other people hurts us emotionally and spiritually. The air in the room becomes toxic and suffocating. Our outlook on life is tarred and skewed as we focus on what everyone else is doing wrong.

On the positive side, a pleasant smelling diffuser makes a room inviting and welcoming. When we exude positive energy and share news of good, helpful acts then the room feels more pleasant and people leave our presence with a brighter outlook on the world.

Although we definitely notice what energy others are bringing into a room, we don't always realise which energy we ourselves are emitting with our looks, our expressions, our words and our actions. The good news is that once we are aware of this concept, we can attempt to control and direct our words so that we will leave a pleasant scent when we leave a room.

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