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Dear reader,

Want a quick trick to become happy? Try smiling.

In the late 1980s, researchers had subjects hold pencils in their mouths in various ways to mimic smiles or frowns. They discovered that by flexing facial muscles, even without knowing why, their subjects’ emotional reactions changed. Those who smiled rated things much more positively than those who frowned. Additional tests gave similar results.

The researchers concluded that though moods are accompanied by changes in the body, it works the other way as well. Make a seemingly insignificant change to your body—like flexing those smiling muscles—and your brain will notice and react accordingly.

So, “fake it till you make it” seems to have some merit.

Interestingly, we find a connection to this concept in this week’s Torah portion, when we are commanded to make the ark out of wood and cover it with gold.

They shall make an ark of acacia wood . . . and you shall overlay [the ark] with pure gold, inside and outside (Exodus 25:10–11)

The ark was made out of three boxes that were tucked into each other. The larger, visible box was made from pure gold. Inside was placed a box of acacia wood, inside of which was placed the smallest box, also made out of gold. The tablets with the Ten Commandments were kept in this innermost box.

Like the boxes of the ark, we too are made up of layers. On the inside we are made from “pure gold,” a G‑dly soul that is untainted and holy, and wants only to do what’s right and good. The next layer is our conscious self—our temperament, moods and feelings. This part of us isn’t always so pure or shiny. And finally, there is the outer box, the part of ourselves that we allow the world to see through our actions.

We might feel hypocritical to put on a golden face to the world when inside we’re feeling the opposite. Should I act outwardly giving, kind and empathetic when I’m feeling rather “wooden”? Should I present a façade of calmness when I really want to lash out in disparaging anger? Why act in a way that contradicts my true feelings?

But the construction of the ark teaches us that we can improve our feelings through our actions. It’s all right to have some “wooden” moments but outwardly act “golden.” Actions create internal change. Act the part, and you become it.

So go ahead and smile, and watch yourself become happier. Give those coins to charity, and witness your mood become more giving and forgiving. Act calmly, and your anger will begin to dissipate.

Because in truth, you aren’t really acting. Deep down, your inner self is pure gold. Wishing you a golden week!

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

P.S.: Did you ever try smiling when you were unhappy? Did it help? What other “acts” do you do to change how you are feeling?

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 reader,

What’s so great about a birthday?

The day you were born is the day you became your very own person. It’s the day that G‑d said, YOU are needed in My world. Your talents and abilities are necessary to fix your specific corner of the world.

So, it’s a day to ponder: What have I accomplished by being here? Did the world change because of me? Did I have any impact on others?

TheJewishWoman.org was born 10 years ago on the 22nd of Shevat, in honor of the yahrtzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, who gave so much of herself for the sake of Jewish women. It’s been an incredible 10 years of rapid growth as a site. But theJewishWoman.org is so much more than just a site. We are an all-inclusive community and online home for women, empowering women to find their unique voices—through learning and education, through inspiration and life experiences, and through practical tips and advice.

Over the years, we have reached all kinds of women, all over the world. Women who are homebound; women in high-powered careers. Women who are homemakers; young women and old women. Women who are the only Jewish person living in their town to whom we are their only connection to their heritage, as well as women who live in large Jewish metropolises.

But a birthday is not a time to smugly sit back and be satisfied. It is a time to ask ourselves: What more can we do? How can we make a bigger impact?

On one’s Jewish birthday, it is customary to get together with family and friends to celebrate Jewishly. And so, we turn to you, our dear readers, and ask you to help us grow and inspire even more women.

Share with us what you like and what you would like to see. Share with us how we have made an impact on your life. If you read something that you enjoy, let us know, but even more so, share it with your friends. Visit us and like us on our Facebook page and invite your friends to join our weekly free email list.

We invite you to celebrate our birthday with us. This year, help us become an even bigger and better home for every Jewish woman across the globe!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

P.S. We really do love to hear from you, so let us know how TheJewishWoman.org is a part of your life.

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 reader,

Timed to coincide with the yahrtzeit (anniversary of passing) of the Rebbe’s wife—Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, of righteous memory—on the 22 Shevat, this weekend nearly 4,000 women from around the world will be coming to New York to attend the annual International Convention of Shluchot (Emissaries).

They will arrive from far-flung places such as India, Nepal and Tasmania, and also from cities and countries a lot closer to your home town.

What is a shluchah?

They are educators. They are mothers. They are fundraisers. They are event planners. They are hostesses. They are teachers. They are bakers. They are administrators.

Their job descriptions are vast and diverse, as unique as each of their own personalities. But one thing they all have in common is that their position has turned them into leaders who make a real difference.

In all that they do, they labor to connect Jews to their heritage, and raise Jewish awareness and the observance of mitzvot. Their mission is to discover what the unique needs of their respective communities are and to selflessly provide those, opening their hearts and homes, and helping every Jew in any way they can.

And this week, they are coming to Brooklyn to become re-energized—to inspire and be inspired. And this week at TJW, we salute these special, selfless women.

We also salute all Jewish women worldwide who work, in their own special and unique ways, to make our world a little better. A little kinder. And a little more G‑dly.

Hats off (or on, rather) to you all!

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 reader,

A while ago, I was asked to speak for a group of university students. The organizer cautioned me that my talk should be “very sophisticated.”

“Wow them with philosophical ideas and a strong intellectual presentation about Judaism,” she had said.

Listening to her advice, I prepared for the event. The talk went very well; the students were engaged and a riveting question and answer period followed. But one of the questions in particular intrigued me and taught me a lesson for life.

One student asked, “I noticed that in the middle of your talk, before taking a sip from your glass of water, you recited a blessing out loud. Can you tell us some more about that?”

I began explaining about the meaning and purpose of brachot, the blessings we say before we eat thanking G‑d for providing us with sustenance. At this point, all the students enthusiastically asked me if I could teach them how to say a brachah! And so, for the next several moments, I practiced with them, word by word, as I do with my youngest of children, how to thank G‑d for the drink and food that He provides us.

I laugh at this incident because so often we think we need to wow people with intellectual and philosophical theory. Sure, Judaism has plenty of that. We could spend a lifetime and beyond plumbing the depths of its profundity before even scraping the surface. We could invest decades studying how it addresses our existential purpose and how to find greater meaning. And our lives would be enriched in the process.

Or, we can simply do it.

I remember at one Shabbat meal, my husband and son were having a very long and detailed discussion on the intricate humanistic aspects of kindness and its legalistic application in Judaism. The dialog was stimulating but at one point, I finally tired from the discussion and said, “Okay, enough with the philosophy. This very tired Jewish mother wants you to practice the kindness you so eloquently address by getting up now and clearing these dishes off the table!”

As the Rebbe so often said, quoting from our sages, “Hamaaseh hu ha-ikar”—the deed is the essence.

Don’t get me wrong. Intellectual deliberations to expand our horizons and to appreciate our world in a deeper and more meaningful way are great, and essential. But let’s not get so sidetracked by the theory that we lose track of the practical.

Because ultimately, as those university students realized, as much as we speak, study, orate, dissect and discuss great ideas, the deed—even the simplest one—is most important!

And perhaps that is one of Judaism’s most profound teachings.

Here’s to a great week of doing!

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 reader,

If you were sending your child off on a long, lonely and dangerous journey, what would your encouraging words be to her? What essential message would you want to give her to invigorate her for the challenges ahead?


In this week’s Torah portion the Jewish people finally leave Egypt after decades of back breaking servitude. As they become a freed people, they are commanded their first mitzvah to observe as a nation.

I’d assume this mitzvah would be of great importance, something cosmic. Perhaps it would define their character as exceptionally moral people or demonstrate the depth of their faith in G‑d.

Instead, they were commanded to consecrate new months based on the rebirth of the moon’s sightings. Through the moon, we establish our calendars, our holidays and traditions—a key feature of Jewish life. Nevertheless, shouldn’t this first mitzvah be more integral to the essence of who we are?

But perhaps the moon more than anything defines us as a nation. The Zohar teaches: The people of Israel set their calendar by the moon, because they are the moon of the world.

Midrash Rabbah explains: The moon begins to shine on the 1st of the month and increases in luminance till the 15th day, when her orb becomes full; from the 15th till the 30th day, her light wanes, on the 30th it is not seen at all. With Israel too, there were 15 generations from Abraham to Solomon. Abraham began to shine… Jacob added to this light… When Solomon appeared, the moon’s orb was full… Henceforth the kings began to diminish … With Zedekiah [when the Holy Temple was destroyed] the light of the moon dimmed entirely.

We had just been slaves for decades in Egypt, beaten, tortured and hated. Despite our oppression, rather than breaking us as a people, we emerged; crushed perhaps, but never broken. As the persecutions increased the Jewish heart and soul grew stronger. “The more they were oppressed, the more they increased and the more they spread.” (Exodus. 1:12)

As we prepare to take our first steps as a free nation on a journey that would stretch millennia, scattering us to the far corners of the world to become a light unto the nations, G‑d impressed upon our psyche a vital message for our endurance.

The story of the moon is the story of our people. Like the moon, the Jewish people dip and soar through history. Yet, from each defeat, we rise stronger. Our highest achievements will be born of moments of despair, each descent leading to a new ascent, each decline bringing us to unprecedented new heights.

Just as the disappearance of the moon is part of its reemergence, the darkness is part of our journey. It is there so we can light the way--and more importantly, so that we can discover our own inner light.

Wishing you a week full of light.

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 reader,

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. On Jan. 12, 2010, a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killing more than 160,000 and displacing close to 1.5 million people.

In the aftermath, thousands were sitting in the streets with nowhere to go. Houses had been seen tumbling into ravines, while many two or three story buildings just didn’t make it. Survivors were running, crying, screaming and trying to dig victims out with flashlights. Bodies white with dust were being piled on the back of pick-up trucks as vehicles ferried the injured to the hospitals.

Amid the devastation, as rescue workers feverishly worked round the clock to save lives, a boy was also found buried alive under the ruins.

This is his story of survival.

The young man had already despaired of being rescued, but his mother had not. She wandered among the debris in the area where she imagined her son to be. She kept on shouting his name, saying, “We’re here looking for you. Hold on and we will get to you soon.”

The mother had no idea if her child heard her or not. But her maternal instinct told her to keep shouting these words of encouragement. On the verge of unconsciousness, her son could not reply, but he heard her. What kept him holding on to the thin tread of life? His mother’s message of love--her continuous call--invigorated him until the workers finally reached him.


The 24th of the month of Tevet on the Jewish calendar is the anniversary of the passing of the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi in 1812. I believe this story encapsulates in a concise nutshell the Alter Rebbe’s integral message to us.

Centuries after proudly standing at Mount Sinai and openly witnessing G‑d’s revelation, we have collectively and personally suffered the spiritual, emotional and physical ravages of exile. As a nation, we have been persecuted, hated and terrorized, forced to wander from one country to another. Spiritually, we remain semi-conscious and apathetic, holding on to our faith with our last ounces of strength.

But the Alter Rebbe teaches that each one of us has within them an actual part of G‑d. This core is untainted and unsullied by the difficulties of life and helps us stay strong. Each of us, too, is connected to a loving Creator who is watching as we struggle with the debris that surrounds us while still cheering us on, calling our names and not giving up on us.

May we finally witness the day when our world no longer experiences devastation and fragmentation and when we can live in peace and harmony.

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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