Hocus Focus: Wave Those Priests

Artist Jacob Kurtzberg, later known as Jack Kirby, once told an interviewer that he was inspired to create the comic book character The Incredible Hulk after seeing a mother lift a car off her injured child.

Though I do not know that this was the event Kirby witnessed, the Associated Press reported a 1982 incident in Lawrenceville, Georgia, in which Angela Cavallo freed her teenage son, Tony, who was crushed when a Chevy Impala he had been working on fell off its jacks. She lifted the vehicle enough for neighbors to pull Tony to safety.

I’ve heard so many accounts of people driven to superhuman feats of strength that I knew this must be well researched. Sure enough, in 1961 the Journal of Applied Physiology published a study entitled “Some Factors Modifying the Expression of Human Strength.” Apparently, certain drugs, hypnosis and yelling are among the stimuli that can temporarily boost human muscular strength by over 30%.

Wouldn’t it be useful to discover a way in which those of us who prefer not to indulge in psychotropic drugs or undergo hypnosis can nonetheless boost our strength?

Let’s glance at several Biblical feats of strength:

And Aaron shall wave the Levites….

The Levites purified themselves…and Aaron waved them…
(Numbers 8:11 and 21)

Ancient Jewish wisdom makes a point of noting that Aaron actually lifted and waved a large number of Levites. If Aaron only waved half the 22,000 Levites mentioned in Numbers 3:31, he would have had to lift and wave one adult male approximately every five seconds during about twelve hours of daylight. In the face of this almost unbelievable feat of strength and endurance, you would have expected to see the waving portrayed as some sort of spiritual metaphor that would have made the entire account plausible. Yet it insists that Aaron, and only Aaron, was capable of this feat.

Similar discussions surround other feats of strength. Jacob singlehandedly rolled a massive stone off the mouth of a well, a stone that usually required many men to move it. (Genesis 29:8-10)

Ancient Jewish wisdom informs us that Jacob accomplished this task as easily as one removes a cork from a bottle.

Moses carried a heavy pair of stone tablets down steep Mt. Sinai. (Exodus 34:4)

In all these examples, oral transmission makes no attempt to dismiss the stories as metaphors. Instead, we are instructed to read them literally in order to gain a glimpse into God’s guide to life that can help us all in our own lives right now and right here.

What is the secret? It is focus! That’s right, just focus. As a child, did you ever play with a magnifying glass? Holding it just right would focus the sun’s rays into a blazingly bright spot that could melt plastic and burn wood.

Similarly, focusing all of our mental and physical energy can allow us to achieve astonishing results. Jacob was utterly focused on supplying Rachel’s need for water. Moses was utterly focused on bringing God’s Torah to the Israelites. And, yes, Aaron was utterly focused on worshipping God in exactly the way He instructed. Utter focus confers the gift of superhuman strength and endurance.

There are ways to train ourselves to focus. The martial arts expert’s blood-curdling yell as he strikes out is an example of one way. For most of us the goal is not smashing bricks or lifting up huge boulders but it is tackling the things we should do diligently and effectively. This can be done with focus.

Ancient Jewish wisdom regards the opposite of focus as laziness.

The field (work) of the lazy man is covered with thorns, dilapidated and overgrown.
(Proverbs 24:30-31)

In a world that dangles distractions, focusing on being able to focus is a necessary first step.  Start by devoting a few minutes before the start of each workday to drawing on God’s limitless strength by studying His word. Keep yourself on track by making a physical mark on paper each time you interrupt what you are doing to pick up your phone, check e-mail or succumb to the siren call of technology. By doing that day after day, you will accustom yourself to using those amazing tools deliberately rather than as a tool of disruption or procrastination.

13 thoughts on “Hocus Focus: Wave Those Priests”

  1. lol, I am currently focusing on my weight with the help of your DD, she is precious, and I am desperate for her help to focus. 😁

  2. Rabbi Lapin,
    Have you ever heard of the studies where a person extends their arm (I don’t recall if right or left or if it matters), from the shoulder outward, and then is asked a series of questions. After each response to each question, the tester pushes down on the extended arm of the subject. If the subject has responded truthfully, the tester is not able to push the arm down. If the subject has lied, the tester can easily push the arm down. I have not seen or undergone these tests personally, but I do know of 2 reputable people who have undergone the tests, and they give their word that it is true. I have also read about them before I knew the people who did go through the tests. So focus is related to strength, but also seems to be related to honesty too! Lying depletes your inner strength, and it becomes easy to poke holes in fabricated stories. Truth cuts like a knife! Thank you for a great and stimulating and thought-provoking lesson. And, don’t you hate how all the distractions of today jerk people out of that deep thought process and keep them living in a scattered state? The brain is capable of always forging new neural pathways, and forges shallower and shallower ones when we live in a state of distraction. Always trying to prevent us from getting into that deep state of FOCUS, where we can tap into the Divine – and the practical too, for that matter – more prolifically. Love it!! Thanks so much!!!!!

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Celesta,
      Thanks for writing us such an interesting letter. What you are referring to is known as the “Pinocchio’s Arm Lie Detector”. You should be aware that it doesn’t work with everyone. In fact it works with fewer than it fails with. Furthermore, it is not that you can’t push the subject’s arm down. With a strong push, you certainly can. It is that if you are sensitive enough you might feel the subject’s arm very slightly easier to depress if lies are being stated. It is, when it works at all, a very subtle and at best very unreliable effect. However, your main point that lying depletes your inner strength is undeniably true. Well said!

  3. Great lesson today Rabi. You are absolutely correct. Searching back through my life events, all things accomplished of any value had to be a form of focus involved. I clearly remember times that my focus was broken and I had to walk away and regain that focus to complete my job.
    I always thought it was will and determination that got my work or any work done.
    But now it makes more since that you have to have focus to gain that will and determination.
    Blessing to You and your Family

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Gus,
      Happy to hear that you have personally experienced this power of focus.

  4. Neweverymoment, Deb:
    Yes, focus is critical and linked to strength. One also needs to understand that hypnosis comes in various forms. Ericksonian hypnosis (Milton Erickson) is named for the man who made hypnosis a respectable discipline with extensive lab studies. There is a huge difference between light trance and deep hypnosis, which the subject is unable to recall, so light trance is preferable in most situations. A great introduction is “My Voice Will Go With You”, a collection of Ericksonian teaching tales, many of which are hilarious. Erickson finally named his “method” utilization therapy, because he just utilized what was presenting itself and preferred not to do things twice the same way.

  5. I have been following football this weekend, particularly interviews with the top players. Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was asked how he gets into his ‘zen-like state’ when he plays. Rogers said that he studied Joe Montana (SF QB) to learn and emulate Joe’s focus and performance. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks QB, does the same all year so he can focus. I can give more examples, but you are absolutely correct, Rabbi: studying and practicing (including The Torah) will lead to our best performances. Thank you for sharing your words and thoughts with all of us!

  6. Thank you so much for this article. Being a missionary In South Africa, I have followed both your teachings over the years and have drawn tremendous strength form it. The Word of God is the most powerful truth ever. Heaven and earth shall pass away but God’s word abides for ever. Once again txs so much. Keep up the good work.


    Ben Patel

    Ps….. Two of my favorite books are”Business Secrets from the Bible “and Thou shall Prosper. So good. 🌟🙏👍

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Great hearing from you Ben,
      Although I have not been back to SA since I left a while back, a piece of my heart will always lie in my birthplace. Thus, it pleases me no end to know that you are engaged in holy work bringing people to God’s word in that country so badly in need of Truth.
      We pray for your success,

  7. Fascinating! I have many ideas and interest. I’ve engaged some of them as businesses across decades. Enjoyable yet, not profitable. I lack focus. Yesterday, I read a piece about Warren Buffett and Bill Gates regarding focus as their common success denominator. I’ve known this since childhood, however, since yesterday afternoon I’ve been “focussing” my thoughts and prayers on developing focus. We, (you & I), are once again in perfect rhythm. Thank you so much Rabbi Lapin. By the way, how did you know I needed this…;-)

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      So happy you were able to deploy our teaching practically in your life, Eddie,
      That’s good news. Wishing you more focus and much more success in generating serious profit.

  8. Not by strength, not by might, nor by power, but by my Ruach.” says HaShem
    Thank you for the reminder.
    This is not for the Forget File.

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