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Overcoming My Computer Problems

February 18, 2018

Dear Readers,

Due to security precautions, every once in a while, our IT management team decides on new protocol. Since so many of us are logging into our computer systems, often remotely from all over the world, I understand why these practices are necessary.

But at the same time, as someone who isn’t adept to change, especially technological ones, I usually say a silent prayer before trying the new procedure, in the hopes that it will work for me.

A couple of weeks ago, we were told by our IT team that we have a new remote desktop server. “The new server is faster, has updated software, is more secure, and has some new features that I know you are going to like.” Hmmm, I thought warily as I read the memo.

We were given a new remote address and instructions for logging on and told that it should progress simply. Except “simple” is rarely a word that I use to describe anything remotely related to technology.

Sure enough, moments later, I was emailing our support team: “Please let me know how I can log on, when I tried to set up my password it did not recognize me. I am being told that the credentials that I used to log on did not work and it is asking for new credentials.”

Their response was swift: “Did you change the username to start with hq\ and then your username?”

After several more attempts, checking and rechecking to make sure I was following all directions precisely, I wrote back, “Yes, and it still isn’t working!”

Eventually, the head IT guy personally helped me figure out the glitch. Of course, I felt like a complete idiot when I discovered that I had typed the forward slash (/) instead of the backward slash (\). I am so used to using the forward slash that I didn’t even realize there is a backward slash on the keyboard! But this tiny difference made all the difference in failing to make the connection.

I learned a few things from this incident.

  1. Details are important. I’m often asked why the Code of Jewish Law goes into such intricate details and requirements for every mitzvah. Why can’t we just feel Jewish or connected to G‑d? Just as a computer can only read specific codes, spiritually, too, we enable certain connections when we follow precise instructions.
  2. It’s hard to change perceptions. Once we get used to doing things in a certain way, or viewing our circumstances as we do, we may not recognize what we are missing. Even after checking and rechecking my password, I didn’t realize I was typing the wrong key—because that was the one I always used!
  3. A friend, mentor or person with an outside perspective can help us to see what we’re doing wrong and open our eyes to new solutions or opportunities.
  4. IT professionals can be really nice, patient people.

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.

What’s the Greatest Health Benefit for You?

February 11, 2018

Dear Readers,

If I asked what would be the one change in your life that could give you the greatest health benefit, how would you respond? Would you say more exercise? Eat healthier? Sleep more? Quit smoking?

Lately, I’ve been reading more and more studies that discuss the health benefits of having interactions with friends, family, neighbors and community members as part of our daily schedules.

Want to live a longer, healthier life? Want to be happier? Then put more effort into your social life!

According to some studies, those with poor social connections had 50 percent higher odds of death than those with regular social integration. Some researchers suggest that communal connections can positively affect our longevity even more than factors like a healthy diet, a flu shot, exercise and not smoking anymore.

Researchers aren’t exactly sure how friends, family or social connections can create greater health. But they have noticed that our bodies respond physiologically better when we have the support of others. Our blood pressure and heart rate will increase less in a stressful situation if we are not alone. This applied even to children, who when they were able to speak to their mothers after stressful events showed better signs of handling their situation.

This week, we enter the Jewish month of Adar—the most joyous month on our calendar. Just around the corner is the holiday of Purim, when we gather as a community to recall the miracle of our salvation in ancient Persia when Haman sought to destroy every Jew, young and old, man and woman. As part of our celebrations, we come together as a community. We read the Megillah together in groups of people. We share gifts of food with one another. We make a festive meal together. And we make sure not to forget those less fortunate by having them join in our merriment and presenting them with gifts of charity.

Judaism knows what science and medicine are now discovering. There is no greater spiritual, emotional or physiological benefit than coming together with others—as a community, as a social network and as a friend—to share an empathetic ear and extend a helping hand.

Let’s be there for another. Not only will it make us into healthier individuals, it will make us better ones, too.

Wishing you a chodesh tov . . . a very happy and joyful month!

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.

Together With Thousands of Inspirational Women

February 4, 2018

Dear Readers,

As I write this column, my thoughts are on our upcoming trip to visit my children and grandchildren in Chicago for my youngest grandson’s upsherin, the traditional first haircut of a little boy when he turns 3.

They say that grandchildren give us a second chance to do things better because they bring out the best in us. Being a grandparent is all about the enjoyment and nachas, with the obligations and disciplining rigors relegated to their parents. As a friend of mine says, “If I had known grandchildren were this much fun I would have had them first!”

But it’s also about the responsibility of leading a new generation on the right course. Lois Wyse, a prolific author, advertising executive and Jewish grandmother, is quoted as saying, “Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.”

We pass the torch of faith and values on to the next generation. We teach and mentor our children and grandchildren, and they, in turn, impart the same knowledge to their offspring, continuing the chain of our history and the bond of our nation.

Thank G‑d, I am blessed to have four grandchildren from two families. All of them are adorable, lovable, smart and cute. Two of my grandchildren are granddaughters. Both of them are proud to be named Chaya, after the Rebbetzin (one Chaya Mushka and the other Chaya because of an elder close relative named Mushka).

The Baal Shem Tov teaches that with every experience, a Jew must contemplate what can be learned from it. How much more so when a loved one passes away, when the verse itself instructs, “The living shall take to heart.” How much must we learn from a woman as great as the Rebbetzin!

This week, on the 22nd of Shevat, we commemorate the 30th yahrtzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. To mark this date, this weekend, thousands of shluchot will gather in New York at the annual International Conference of Chabad women emissaries. These women will pay tribute to the values and teachings of this righteous woman as together they recharge, reconnect, pray and learn. They take these shared experiences back home to their own communities, where they continue to teach and inspire others.

Many countries are represented in the conference, with women flying in from destinations in the Far East, South Africa, Europe and across the former Soviet Union—with many mothers, daughters and even granddaughters in attendance together.

And this year at the conference, I, too, will sit with these thousands of strong and stimulating women, learning and being inspired. At my side will be my newly married daughter, who together with her husband are proud new shluchim dedicated to bringing the Rebbe and Rebbetzin’s message and teachings to their own community in the Bahamas, bringing the number of countries where there now are Chabad emissaries to more than 100.

From one generation to the next, the torch of faith become illuminated and passes on.

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.

The Tree That Touched the Heavens

January 28, 2018

Dear Readers,

The older I become, the faster the seasons seem to revolve, passing by at an almost dizzying pace.

In the spring, the flowering trees brighten our world with their vivid primary colors. They make me think of bright-eyed children, enveloped in joie de vivre. They face their days with daring, colorful enthusiasm and flamboyant joy. But the fall’s aging leaves—the mustard yellows and burnt orange, clinging to life with their last breath—mesmerize me. These leaves are like a mature individual, made wise by her shades of life experiences. Their deeper colors symbolize a fuller perspective of hues and a more multidimensional perception of our world . . . and of our relationship with our Creator.

As I watch the transforming scenery, I am reminded of a verse from Ecclesiastes, “a generation has passed, a generation has arrived, but the earth stands still forever.” The names change and the backdrop may be different. Some families are larger, and some individuals achieve more colorful accomplishments. But each eventually repeats the cycle of life as love and birth changes season into loss and heartbreak.

Each of us, too, has personal moments of glory when we’re in full bloom—sharing our abundant shade with others, giving off beautiful deeds for the world to appreciate. But these moments wither away, as the wheel of life turns, and our inspiration and accomplishment are depleted. We start off our lives full of wonder, full of hope and belief in our unlimited potential, only to have our expectations tumble down into reality with the passage of time.

Sometimes, I wonder if there is any point or purpose to these cycles. Is our world progressing forward, or are we simply in a cycle of endless and meaningless repetition?

Yet the fading trees seem to be whispering an inspiring message.

When we moved into our home several years ago, our tree was but a small sapling, so weak and hapless that it was almost blown about by the raging winter winds. Over the changing seasons, it has grown taller and thicker. Its branches now reach up to the heavens; its roots have taken a firm grip in the earth. Though its leaves have fallen away through each of the seasons, its trunk is fuller and more mature.

Through the passage of time, each of us develops into a stronger person with deeper convictions and a surer sense of who we are. And looking back into our history—even when precious, beautiful leaves have been ripped away from our tall national tree by the winds of aggression and turmoil—the tree of the Jewish people continues to grow stronger, our roots extending ever deeper. The Jewish tree “is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it.”

For man is a tree of the field. (Deut. 20:19)

Through the seasons of our lives, each of us is developing into a fuller, taller, more mature tree, while awaiting the time when our branches will touch the very heavens.

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.

When Catching a Virus Can Be a Good Thing!

January 21, 2018

Dear Readers,

Every year, just before the onset of winter, I read dire warnings about the upcoming flu season. This year is supposed to be a particularly dreadful one, which makes the aches and pains accompanying the flu all the more ominous.

But no worries; free shots are available, which presumably will help lessen your chances of getting sick. By injecting your body with a small dose of the flu virus, the vaccine stimulates your body’s immune system to make antibodies that attack it. This way, if you’re exposed to the flu virus, your immune system will recognize it, and immediately produce antibodies to fight it even before those aches and pains set it.

I find it interesting that viruses are also used in gene therapy, where genetic material is inserted into cells to compensate for abnormal genes. Since a gene that is inserted directly into a cell usually doesn’t function, certain viruses are used to deliver the new gene by infecting the cell. These viruses are modified so they can’t cause any disease but just deliver the necessary therapy.

Though I don’t really fully understand how it all works, what amazes me about this technology is that something that we consider negative or harmful—a virus—is being used for such positive outcomes.

Everything that G‑d created has a purpose. If this is true in all realms, how much more so does this apply to each of us, human beings who are created with a spark of G‑dliness? We each have an essential reason of why we are here!

In “Song of Songs,” G‑d refers to our world as His garden. A garden is a place of delight, where we enjoy spending time. And yet, a garden is also a place of toil, where we need to work hard, sweating as we plant and tend to the vegetation, producing gorgeous, blooming flowers while eliminating ugly, harmful weeds.

G‑d created our world with the vision that it would serve as His home. He envisioned a lowly place, filled with spiritual blackness, where creations who have free choice—and who are capable of embracing the darkness or rejecting it—would ultimately transform it into light.

We do this on a personal level when we strive to transform our own darkness, temptations and negative traits into light. We use our circumstances and personalities, too, to create more positivity and beauty in our world.

And as I read about new vaccines that ward off terrible illness or viruses that are used to spread healing, our world is looking more and more like a beautiful garden.

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.

The First Step to Liberation

January 14, 2018

Dear Readers,

Has a friend ever approached you to share a worry or issue that weighs heavily on her heart? Have you ever responded by assuring her to “look at the bright side” or “if you think that’s bad, let me tell you what happened to my relative . . . ”? While your intention is to help her get “past it,” by belittling the issue or not fully exploring the extent of her worry or sorrow, you actually aren’t being helpful at all.


This week’s Torah portion, Bo (“come”), describes the last plagues visited upon the Egyptians, culminating with the exodus of the Jewish people. In the opening verse, G‑d instructs Moses, “Come to Pharaoh . . . ,” to warn Pharaoh of the upcoming plagues and to demand their release.

Since the name of each Torah section conveys its primary message, why is Bo not titled “Freedom” or something that describes the extraordinary exodus?

In fact, the name, “Come [to Pharaoh],” reminds us of the opposite—of the Jewish people’s slavery. Moses needed to petition Pharaoh and appeal to him to free his people.

Commentaries also question the usage of the term “come to Pharaoh,” instead of the more appropriate “go to Pharaoh.”

But perhaps, the title holds the psychological key to finding solutions to our challenges.

The Zohar explains that by instructing Moses to “come to Pharaoh,” G‑d was inviting Moses to confront the essence of the Egyptian ruler. G‑d told Moses to enter into Pharaoh, in the sense of entering deep within the mind and character of Egypt’s arch-idol.

To liberate the children of Israel from the shackles of their servitude, it was not sufficient for Moses, their leader, to merely “go” to Pharaoh and have a peripheral vision of this leader’s strength. Moses needed to fully confront Pharaoh within his “home base.” He needed to enter into Pharaoh’s mindset—into the bowels of his psyche, into the innards of his consciousness—in order to comprehend the root of his power and his tenacious, tyrannical hold on the Jewish people.

This was the first step towards liberation.

Moses was the “shepherd” of our people. His conduct teaches us how to help ourselves and others through their respective enslavements, constrictions or challenges.

In order to free someone from the shackles of their problems, fears and insecurities, we must “come to Pharaoh.”

Don’t dismiss someone’s (or your own!) issues as insignificant. Don’t reassure her that this “little” incident will pass without validating what she is experiencing. Don’t distract her from her problem without dealing with it.

Experience her pain, frustration and insecurity. Explore her feelings and validate her challenges. Picture her monsters and feel her fears. Understand what is inhibiting her growth. Help her face her obstacles, rather than avoid them.

Only after you have fully understood what is oppressing the individual can you hope to succeed in providing the solutions for liberation.

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.

Take the Bathing Suit Test

January 7, 2018

Dear Readers,

I’ve heard the expression that you are what you eat, but do you ever feel that you are what you wear?

Often, our choice of clothing reflects the image we want to project to the world. That’s why so many advice columns offer suggestions on what and what not to wear to a business interview or cocktail party. The members of the Royal family have rules on how formally they must dress for public engagement—from gloves to military uniforms to the length of their skirts. Private schools often enforce uniforms for their students, but even many public schools now have dress codes.

Usually, these codes are all about how our clothing affects others, either in what impression we make or in the image we want to project. But recently, I read a fascinating article proving just how much our clothes affect us!

A study was conducted by the University of Michigan, headed by Barbara Fredrickson, about how clothing correlated to academic performance. A random group of college-age men and women were asked to wear bulky sweaters or swimsuits: a one-piece suit for the women and swimming trunks for the men. Each participant was seated alone in a windowless room, with no observers, and asked to take a math test. Fredrickson later compared how the type of dress affected the test scores.

Men wearing swimming trunks did slightly better than those wearing sweaters. But for the women, there was a significant difference. The women in swimsuits fared much worse than those in sweaters, scoring only about half as many answers correctly! Subsequent research confirmed these results.

Dr. Leonard Sax, a psychologist and author, concluded that when women wear skimpy clothing, self-objectification occurs. Self-objectification distracts and makes it hard to focus on academics. They feel self-conscious.

Remember: These women were in a windowless room with no one watching them. Yet their clothing caused them to assess themselves as an object on display. Sax asserts that girls who self-objectify are more likely to become depressed and less likely to be satisfied with their bodies.

There is a very beautiful phrase in the book of Psalms (45:14) that reads, Kol Kevudah bas melech penima (“the very honor of the daughter of the King is within”). Every Jewish woman is the daughter of the King, and spiritually, she instinctively understands that her worth and honor come from within.

In Chassidic philosophy, the term penimiyut (“inwardness”) is discussed at length. Penimiyut is the opposite of superficiality or externality, and it means inward integrity—someone who lives according to his actions, who projects outwardly what he is inwardly.

A woman intuitively feels that her worth is far more than the external image she presents to the world. And yet, as this study indicates, her mode of dress affects how she views herself.

In a superficial world that objectifies women, the verse from Psalms reminds us to cherish inwardness, to stay true to our essence and to remember that we are a spiritual being.

And in a world that very much objectifies women, don’t let your dress objectify you.

How does your clothing make you feel about yourself?

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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