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Biblical Body Language

December 8, 2009

My Shabbat sermon from December 5, 2009:

Bowing, Biting, Embracing, Crying – Biblical Body Language

Body language is something that we frequently are not conscious of but certainly says a lot about us, sometimes more than words. Research claims that only 19% of our communication is carried out with words, while close to 50% is conveyed by our body language. The science of the study of body language is known as “Kinesics” … the science is relatively new but this morning’s Torah portion contains an incident with various forms of body language that contain a contemporary lesson for us.

Our Torah portion describes the long awaited meeting between Jacob and Esau. They have been separated for 20 years. Jacob left after having secured the birthright from his father, Isaac … while Esau, his brother, swore revenge. What is going to happen after 20 years? Jacob does not know, and the Torah tells us that he prepares for this day by praying, bringing gifts and preparing for war. And then the moment arrives. The two brothers come face to face. Esau comes with an army of 400 men. Jacob immediately divides up his family to protect them. And the Torah tells us: Vayishtachu artzah sheva p’amim ad gishto ad achav – and Jacob bowed himself to the ground seven times until he came near to his brother.” READ MORE

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