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Dear Readers,

This week we usher in the Jewish month of Av, the saddest and darkest month on our calendar. On the ninth day of this month, we commemorate the destruction of both the First and Second Temples, as well as many other tragedies.

In our lives, we all have light-filled days when we feel at peace with our inner selves and aligned with our mission in this world. But more often than not, we have dark and sad days when we seem out of sync. These are the times in our lives that are painful and full of unused potential, when we feel disconnected from our spiritual selves and our Maker.

Yet, often it is precisely in the blackness and difficulties of our lives that our fortitude, faith and strength as human beings emerge. Those circumstances highlight the hidden potency of our inner souls and bring out their greatness.

Just as anxiety is meant to agitate us into action, darkness, too, must be used as a springboard for further growth and to acquire a deeper sensitivity. There is a Chassidic saying that nothing is as whole as a broken heart—as long as our grief is constructive, such turmoil brings us to action.

And that’s why the name of this dark month is so appropriate. Av means “father” in Hebrew. Other months seem to have more significant name associations: Nissan, the month of nissim (“miracles”); the High Holidays are in Tishrei, new beginnings. What relevance does fatherhood have to this sad month, when some of the most painful events in our history occurred?

Av is the month when we hit our lowest point as a nation, when we can easily feel deserted and alone. And perhaps that is precisely why this month needs to be called “Father.”

Only a father can you look you in the eye with a tenderness that says you are straying, and that it’s time to return. Only a parent can guide you to a better direction with an unquestionable firmness that still holds warmth and sensitivity. Only a parent can punish without alienating—his love hidden, but still apparent.

It is customary to add to this month the name “Menachem,” which means “comforter” or “consoler,” so that it becomes “Menachem Av”: the “comforting Father.”

As we begin this month of Menachem Av, may each of us finally feel our Creator’s loving, everlasting embrace.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

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

Dear Readers,

This past week, a friend shared with me that an acquaintance had unexpectedly reached out to her son and did a special favor for him. Throughout his teenage years, my friend has always had a testy relationship with that particular child. Nevertheless, when she heard about the sweet gesture, done so unpredictably by this acquaintance, she felt extremely grateful to him for befriending her son and showing him that warmth.

Now, every time she mentions this individual in any of our conversations, it is with a special tenderness, admiration and genuine respect—all because of one small act, done for her son.

My friend is no exception. I am sure most parents feel that way. Indeed, the way to a mother’s heart is through being kind to her child.

When someone does something positive for my children, I feel extremely grateful. You may have angered me in the past or I may feel resentful towards you for whatever misdeed, but if you do a favor for one of my children, that will erase it all. Conversely, you and I can be best of friends, but if you act unkindly toward my child, consider the friendship over!

I was thinking about this, and it occurred to me that this is not only true with human parents, but also with our Creator. Treat G‑d’s children compassionately, and He’ll forgive and overlook your own misdeeds. But malign His children—act nastily or condescendingly towards them—and you will have hurt the very core of your relationship with G‑d.

So when you think you are “standing up for G‑d” by judging His children, think again. G‑d doesn’t need us to serve as His judge and jury. Instead, He wants us to feel and spread kindness, compassion and empathy for all His children, even those who sometimes “test” Him.

We are now in the period of the “Three Weeks,” mourning the destruction of the Temple, which was caused due to baseless hatred. Now is the perfect time for us to focus on love.

Let’s extend ourselves and act especially kind to G‑d’s children . . . and we will have found the secret path to G‑d’s “heart.”

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

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

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 TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.

Dear Readers,

There’s a joke about a mother who was walking with her daughter along the beach at the water’s edge. Suddenly, a huge wave sweeps the little girl out to sea.

“Oh, G‑d,” laments the mother, turning her face heavenward. “This was my baby—the love and joy of my life. Give her back to me, and I’ll give charity every day for the rest of my life!”

Suddenly, another enormous wave deposits the girl back on the sand. Looking back up to heaven, the mother says, “She had on a hat!”

It’s easy to lose perspective.

There’s the couple who yearned for a baby for many years. Months and years pass, and their aches intensify. When the wife finally becomes pregnant, their joy knows no bounds. But unfortunately, it is short-lived. The couple soon finds themselves bickering about everything—small things, like what color to paint their baby’s bedroom to larger issues, like who will be her caregiver when her parents are away.

Or there are the parents who are overjoyed to hear that their daughter has finally found her soulmate. As they begin to prepare for her wedding day, they become utterly disappointed to learn that the venue they had always dreamed of was booked solid.

Does it sound unreal? It happens all the time.

How often do we pray for a certain outcome? We are overcome with relief and gratitude when our wishes finally materialize. But how long does our satisfaction last? How long does it take until we become irritated with some detail that wasn’t anticipated or some part of our idyllic plan that hasn’t occurred?

In this week’s Torah portion, we read the story of the Jews at the end of their 40-year sojourn in the desert. They are camped by the Jordan River just outside of the Land of Israel.

Over the last several decades, they had gone through so much. They had passed and failed many tests and challenges. They had grown and matured as a people. Finally, they are at the cusp of achieving their dream, ready to cross over into the Promised Land!

And then what happens? They lose perspective.

Israel dwelled in Shittim. And the people began to go astray after the daughters of Moab (Numbers 25:1)

Debauchery, harlotry and idolatry ensue, reaching its peak when finally one man, Pinchas, stands up from the crowd and acts quickly to put an end to the sins.

Losing focus and becoming distracted are all too easy. Even when we are about to achieve our goal, we often stumble because we lose our vision and forget what is truly important.

This week, like Pinchas, let’s focus on rising to the challenge of keeping a proper perspective, even when things don’t go exactly as planned.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

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

Dear Readers,

I overheard a discussion.

One woman was complaining about her teenage son’s aggravating behavior. “Sometimes, I could just kill him!” She vented.

Unbeknownst to her, the other woman was in the middle of chemotherapy treatment for her own son to fight his life-threatening illness. I observed her tense up at the choice of words.

Calmly, she replied: “Kids will be kids. But beneath it all, we love them so much that we would do anything to keep them healthy—even with their irritating antics.”

This week’s Torah portion speaks of the death of Moses’s brother, Aaron. “The entire Israel wept for Aaron for thirty days.” (Numbers 20:29)

The entire nation mourned Aaron’s death because he was so beloved to them. The Midrash (Avos d’Rabbi Nosson 12:3) explains that he worked hard at restoring peace between quarrelling friends or spouses.

Aaron would approach each of the disagreeing individuals separately and soften them by saying, “Your friend/spouse is utterly embarrassed over what he did to you! He wishes you would be reconciled.” When the two would later meet, they would be ready to overlook their differences and re-establish their relationship.

We are permitted to modify the truth for the sake of peace, but on face value, it seems like Aaron was actually saying a complete lie, which is not permitted.

But in truth, Aaron’s words were not inherently false (Sichos Kodesh, 5741). To love our fellow is a cardinal mitzvah of the Torah, which we all want to fulfill. While on the outside, these friends or spouses were angry with each other, Aaron was able to help them dig a little deeper to expose their true feelings and wishes.

This week is Gimmel Tammuz, the anniversary of the passing of the Rebbe.

In the first talk that the Rebbe delivered on his official acceptance of leadership, he articulated what would become his mission statement. He spoke about love of one’s fellow human being, as well as the interrelation between loving G‑d and loving His children.

“A person who loves G‑d will eventually come to love what G‑d loves—all His children. And his love will drive him to wish to bring G‑d’s children close to Torah—because that’s what G‑d loves.”

There are times that circumstances create barriers between us. Due to the many pressures in our lives, we may sometimes act selfishly or insensitively, or respond angrily or unkindly. But deep down, that’s not really who we are or wish to be.

Loving our fellow means stripping away those external barriers that divide us to find the deepest bonds that connect us. Because, despite irritating antics or behaviors, that love is what is truly real.

Here’s to a week of reconciliations and spreading the love!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

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

Dear Readers,

An acquaintance of mine has a taxing job. She is up at the crack of dawn, six days a week. She regularly puts in more than 60-hour weeks and rarely takes vacations. She’s constantly on call, and when anything goes wrong, she’s the address. Though her work entails tremendous responsibility, for now, she gets paid only enough to cover her basic expenses.

My friend is an entrepreneur. She proudly tells me how much she loves what she does. She loves setting her own hours, investing in and building her future, and most importantly, being her own boss.

I know a group of people who used to enjoy talking in shul during the services. After constantly being reprimanded, they eventually decided to establish their own shul. Surprisingly, they now have a strict policy against extraneous talking that they collectively enforce. They take pride that the atmosphere in their shul is one of reflective, serene devotion to prayers.

A man I know is very wealthy. He has the means to hire whatever help he needs and delegates menial tasks to his assistants.

One day, this man decided to start his own volunteer organization to help people in need. He is so dedicated to his organization that he puts his life and soul into it. He personally makes deliveries or drop-offs, calls people on the phone, prepares refreshments for meetings and even sweeps up after events. Nothing is “beneath” him when it comes to his own organization.

Isn’t it amazing what we are willing to do when we feel that something is our own? When we assume ownership of a project or undertaking, we are willing to go far beyond the line of duty to make sure it is successful.

Because we don’t feel like we are doing it for someone else. It is ours. We set the tone. We set the example. We reap the benefits. And so we are willing to give it our all.

G‑d created our world with the goal of making a “dwelling place in the lower worlds,”(Tanya, Chapter 36), transforming our material world into a home where holiness would feel comfortable. G‑d contributes the bricks, so to speak, for this dwelling—the physical world. We provide the spirituality by imbuing our lives and world with meaning and purpose.

But G‑d doesn’t ask us to be His workers in changing our world. He asks us to take ownership and become His partner (Shabbos 119b) in making our world better.

We are the entrepreneurs of our world. We are the head of this amazing organization called planet earth. Let’s take ownership, in the fullest extent of the word, and do what’s needed to finally steer our enterprise to its utmost success.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

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

Dear Readers,

There’s a joke told about a considerate husband who wanted to celebrate his wife’s upcoming birthday in a special way, and so he asked her what she'd like.

“I’d love to be 6 again,” she replied.

On the morning of her birthday, he woke her at the crack of dawn and off they went to a local theme park. What a day! He put her on every scary rollercoaster!

Five hours later, staggering out of the theme park, her head was reeling and her stomach was upside-down. They went straight to a kid-friendly, fast-food eatery where her husband ordered her slices of pizza, extra fries smothered in ketchup and a creamy chocolate shake.

Finally, wobbling home, the wife collapses on the couch as her husband endearingly asks, “Well, dear, what was it like being 6 again?”

With only one eye half-open, she murmurs, “I meant my dress size!”

This week at TheJewishWoman.org, we are focusing on youth. That doesn’t mean that we’re trying to be 6 years old again, but we do try to find the elixir to youth. We also look at how to teach our youth to have a growth mindset. As well, we look at learning from children what they intuitively know that sometimes we adults tend to forget (or neglect). We also explore seven awesome prayers that women say, some of them revolving around our children.

In the spirit of exploring youthfulness, we have even provided you with something that’s really popular nowadays: adult coloring pages. Discover your own inner creativity as you steep in bright colors and contemplate the deep message behind this image. Please don’t forget to let us know if you enjoyed the activity.

So this week, let’s tap into our inner youth—figuratively, if not literally.

Wishing you a wonderful week!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

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

Dear Readers,

Until several weeks ago, I hadn’t even heard of fidget spinners. Then one day, my daughter came home from school and informed me of this latest fad. Like any good mother, I immediately tried to get a hold of one, but had a hard time because it was sold out in so many stores due to the massive demand.

Since then, I’ve been noticing fidget spinners everywhere. They’re online, in toy stores, even at the supermarket checkout lines. Forbes magazine describes them as “the must-have office toy for 2017.” YouTube has videos showing the cool tricks you can do with them; there are even customizable ones with company or organization logos (including Chabad Friendship Circle). The toys have become so prevalent that some schools are considering banning them because too many of their students become distracted by them. Others are vehemently defending their benefits in helping children with short attention spans focus and in releasing nervous energy. Apparently, this nondescript toy has taken the world by storm!

Catherine A. Hettinger invented an original spinner in the summer of 1993 to keep her daughter occupied while she was suffering from muscle weakness due to an autoimmune disease. She held a patent for eight years, but surrendered it in 2005 because she could not afford the $400 renewal fee. While the current spinner is different than her original design, she might have been a rich woman today if she had kept her patent. In any case, Hettinger says she is just pleased that her idea has evolved into something so popular.

So why does the fidget spinner make me optimistic about Moshiach?

Not long ago, the fidget spinner was completely unknown. But within a very short time, we’ve learned about it, have been exposed to its benefits and want to be a part of this addictive trend. If this is true with something neutral and non-influential like a spinning toy, how much more must this be true for a positive force of goodness that teaches kindness, morality and compassion. While the concept of Moshiach and the Future Redemption may at times seem like a distant and unrealistic dream, the fidget-spinning craze makes me optimistic about how quickly and dramatically our world could change for the better.

Unfortunately, Hettinger didn’t have the money or ability to see her dream materialize into a profitable reality. But Moshiach has been the Jewish people’s dream for centuries and it is a reality that can—and must—be realized.

Let’s hold on to our dream! More importantly, let’s make it the new craze that makes our world spin upside-down—in the most positive way!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

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