Levator Scapulae!
Shavuot & Naso
KOSHER SUTRA 'the holy service was upon them: they carried it on their shoulders' (Bamidbar 7:9)
SOUL SOLUTION Emotionally grounding, raise your spirits.
BODY BENEFITS Strengthens legs, inner balance.

Last week I wrote a fairly arcane joke. It will be amusing to around 10 people in the world; those who know both Harry Potter and physical anatomy. Here goes: A wizard walks into a bar, raises his wand high in the air and says ‘Levator Scapulae!’.

I’ll explain. The Levator Scapulae is the muscle that raises (levator) the shoulderblade (scapulae). Yeah, yeah, it’s too late to laugh now.

Our Kosher Sutra takes us into the desert where the priests are saddled with the task of carrying the tabernacle (mishkan) on their shoulders. Rabbi Elimelech of Lizensk explained that it is through our shoulders that we connect with other people and bring divine blessing into the world. The Kabbalah associates the right shoulder with loving kindness (Hesed) because we will often give gifts to others or perform deeds by leading with this hand. Rav Elimelech connects another Hebrew word for shoulder, Shechem, with Abraham who ‘arose in the morning’ to do goodness (‘Va’y’schem – Gen 19:27, 22:3)*.

A balanced physical yoga practice contains asanas (postures) that open our shoulderblades and get them into the correct alignment. In Mountain Pose we focus on planting the shoulder blades into the back and lengthening the neck. If you’ve ever experienced any tightness in your neck, such as the inability to turn your head right or left as the nerve pinches, try drawing your shoulderblades downwards, thereby freeing the neck.

There is a midrash that when the Levite priests carried the Tabernacle on their shoulders it was so light that it actually lifted them. Rav Matis Weinberg teaches that when the Temple was built in Jerusalem, they no longer had to carry anything physical, but their job was carry a tune. What’s the most powerful thing about a tune? If you start singing a tune and you don’t feel good at the beginning, the tune will eventually lift you**.

Tonight is Shavuot where we remember climbing the mountain and receiving enlightenment. Dance, sing, learn and be lifted high through all of your holy actions.

*Mipinenei Noam Elimelech on Naso.
**Thank you to Raphael Zarum for this teaching.