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Breaking Down Walls

Breaking Down Walls


Dear Readers,

A friend of mine is a cancer survivor. Generally, she’s upbeat, positive, grateful and hopeful about her long-term recovery. But every once in a while, she vents about some of the stupid things people say to her.

When bumping into her at Walmart, one individual told her: “Oy, I just can’t imagine it happening to me!”

“What does this person think?” my friend asks me. “That I thought it would happen to me? Does she think that I conjured up this nightmare in my imagination and that if she murmurs, ‘I can’t imagine’ enough times, it will keep her on the safe side of the divide?!”

My friend’s pain made me reflect on our hurtful behavior.

Whether a physical or mental ailment, a disability, divorce or financial disaster—and any other kind of unfortunate circumstance—don’t we often try to construct our own “divide”? Subconsciously, we try to convince ourselves that if we remain on our side of the wall, we’ll be safe from this painful situation happening? We create a mode of “us” and “them” with the delusional thoughts that if we can somehow “justify” what happened to them, then that will make us safe from suffering such misfortune.

In truth, none of us are masters over our circumstances. We don’t sit in the driver seat to determine where or how our lives will be steered. We are not in control of our destiny.

What we are in control of is how we react to our situations—what we allow ourselves to become as the paths of our lives unfold.

And part of that choice is how we relate to those around us. We can choose to build walls of separation that provide a false sense of security to barricade ourselves from another’s “contagious” misfortune. Or we can choose to be there for others, just as we would want them to be there for us.

This week begins the “Three Weeks,” the annual period of mourning the destruction of the Holy Temple and our ongoing exile. It begins on the 17th day of the Jewish month of Tammuz, a fast day that marks the day when the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the Romans in 69 CE.

The second Temple was destroyed because Jews were guilty of harboring baseless hatred towards each other. Rather than feeling and acting like a united people, they chose to see separations. We remain in exile today because we need to learn how to foster baseless love.

We can help correct that by breaking down the barriers that divide us, including those barriers we create to judge, feel superior or act callously towards others. Instead, let’s build a shelter of protection that surrounds those who are going through tough times, encircling them with love, empathy and practical assistance.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

Chana Weisberg is the editor of She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Charcoal July 14, 2017

A compassionate heart, not one of stone. A heart that can look at our fellow human and know that he or she is loved by God. Good or bad, with or without pain, we all need to carry the weight and pains of this world. However, if given this burden to bear, we don't have to like it. However, what we do need to understand is that God is right there, walking beside you, holding you up when you and others can't.. Reply

Geneva Lewis California July 12, 2017

So true and so beautifully stated. Thank you. Reply

Shoshana Jerusalem July 12, 2017

Thank you for a well reasoned article. Maybe the lady meant ...I would be a mess...couldn't handle as well as calm, trusting hashem... Reply

Raymond Bastarache NB Canada July 11, 2017

Time and chance for all...I am not exempted...Job said:' Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble" My prayer ? '' Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I '.... My times are in His Hand.....a present help in time of need...He is my Comforter.....Prince of peace...How can I live without Him? Yes, people closest to you, can say hurtful things......forgive as they forgave you....remember we are human, we've.... all said (perhaps, not thinking) negative things? there is only One Perfect?............our precious Redeemer. Shalom. Reply

Devorah Mei Snidecor Israel July 11, 2017

Wow - what a blunder this article is! Are you trying to give guilt feelings to those who are confused? The big problem in this generation, specially the American one, is the abolishment of PRIVACY. - everything is open. In my time, if someone had "cancer" it was kept inside the close family and not discussed as a "gift or a blessing" from Hashem. I'm sorry for those suffering from whatever - BUT I feel superior to a rasha, and thanks Kadosh Baruch Hu for His protections, for His given binna to differentiate between holy and mundane, and for the sensitivity to understand His guiding ways in my daily life..
Nevertheless I pray the rasha would merit to be save.
Exile is OVER....if you come to Israel you will see with your own eyes....we are in the time of Geula - Israel is blossoming in every area - financial, religious, in science - just name it.
Time to leave the Galut and experience the physical and spiritual connection with our Holy Land. HAMAVDIL is the key word. Reply

Rose Canada July 11, 2017
in response to Devorah Mei Snidecor:

And yet , the previouly persecuted never learned the lesson of not persecuting other! Reply

joan pollack Harrow london UK July 11, 2017

we must love ourselves before we can love others and not sacrifice ourselves for principles we do no uphold for ourselves. Everyone has their own capabilities and reserves. Reply

Often we need a break from our daily routine. A pause from life to help us appreciate life.

A little pat on the back to let us know when we're on track. A word of encouragement to help us through those bleak moments and difficult days.

Sometimes, we just yearn for some friendship and camaraderie, someone to share our heart with. And sometimes we need a little direction from someone who's been there.

So, take a short pause from the busyness of your day and join Chana Weisberg for a cup of coffee.

Chana Weisberg is the author of Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman and four other books. Weisberg is a noted educator and columnist and lectures worldwide on issues relating to women, faith, relationships and the Jewish soul.
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