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Every year, Chabad of Southern Ontario coordinates a spectacular outdoor fireworks show, as part of the festivities for the intermediate days of Sukkot. This year was no different, and a few weeks ago, it was a treat for me to watch.

Hypnotized by the dazzling display of colors and lights against the backdrop of the dark evening horizon, here's what I observed:

1) One flame fired from down here on earth created a huge explosion of light up above.

2) Some firecrackers exploded vertically in a huge single line of fire. Others expanded horizontally across the entire skyline, while others created new offshoot explosions even after they had erupted in the sky. But in every instance, one small act of light set off a chain reaction to a spectacular succession of magnificence.

3) Some of the firecrackers made loud swooshing noises as they exploded. Others were virtually silent. The firecrackers that crackled the loudest didn't necessarily produce the brightest results. Some of the most impressionable effects originated from the quietest firecrackers.

4) No matter how brilliant, bright or beautiful each of the lights sparkled, eventually each grew dim and finally died down. None lasted forever. The point was to enjoy, appreciate and value the beauty of the moment.

5) Each exhibit of light was exquisite in its own right, but the glory of the presentation was how all the lights came together in stunning harmony.

The more I reflected on the fireworks, the more I thought about the commonalities they share with our own lives.

Can you think of any other similarities?

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.

Every once in a while, it's important to kvetch to your boss in order to help him appreciate just how hard you are working. It's a vital tactic so he won't take you for granted, or figure that since productivity comes to you so easily, he can pile even more work your way.

With that in mind, I began kvetching to my superior about my overwhelming workload.

"You're right, Chana, you do a lot," he empathized wisely. (I guess he also studied Psychology 101.) Then, without missing a beat, he countered, "Why don't you try writing shorter pieces for your blog? Write just any thought you had in your day. You could do that, say, two or even three times a week, instead of writing a longer, more involved piece only once a week."

Huh? How did that happen? He is really an astute fellow, so I have no doubt that he grasped very well that doing three times the work would not help lessen my load! But, I guess, once upon a time, he also worked under superiors and identified my tactic. He figured if he offered me this alternative, I'd be content to return to "only" what I was already doing.

But his suggestion made me think. Imagine that, three times a week, you'd write down a novel idea that came to your mind, an idea to share with others.

Not an easy task.

How many of us have three worthy thoughts a week that are appropriate, enlightening and wise enough to impart to others? Since the human being is distinguishable from all other species by being crowned with intelligence and discernment, maybe an even better question to ask is, why don't we?

Now that's something to think about.

And maybe even write about.

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.

There's a well-known anecdote about a teacher who wanted to instill the concept of priorities in his students. Here's how the story goes:

One day, a teacher brought to his classroom a large glass container. He filled it with large rocks and asked his students if it was full. When the students answered in the affirmative, he started to add pebbles to fill in the spaces around the rocks. When he was done, he again asked the students if it was full. When the students replied yes again, the teacher added fine grains of sand to fill in every last crevice in the container. When the students were finally convinced the container was full, the teacher still found room to pour water inside.

"So," asked the teacher, "what have you learned today?"

One eager, young man jumped to his feet and said, "No matter how full your life is, there's always room for more."

"Thank you," said the teacher, "but that is not the point I was making. What I was trying to show was that you have to get the important things in life, the big rocks, in place first. Otherwise, you will never fit them in and all you'll be left with is sand and water."

Then he asked his students to consider what the "big rocks" in their lives were: G‑d, family, friends, health, ambitions, safety, being loved, loving others. The list ran on and varied according to each student.

(Check out a great article by Aron Moss, for a uniquely "Jewish" version and inspirational lesson of this story, by clicking here.)

With this little story in mind, I set out on the mundane task of filling one of my decorative glass vases with colorful potpourri–an assortment of ornamental balls, sticks, rectangles and spirals, all ranging in size.

Like the wise teacher instructed, I began with the largest balls. But to my dismay, once they were all firmly in place, I found the smaller items just couldn't fit. Worse, there were large gaps all along the periphery of my vase, on the bottom, at the sides, and in the crevices where the smaller pieces would have fit nicely had they been put there first, but now simply could no longer squeeze past their larger counterparts.

So I tried shaking the vase a little. That helped for a few very small pieces, but most were helplessly stuck in place.

That's when I realized that while the above lesson works well with a square box or a circular container, it fails in one that has curves. In this case, the lesson literally falls through the cracks. Each piece—big and small–needs to be intentionally put into its rightful place, and the significance of all the pieces becomes evident to form a more beautiful whole.

Real life is kind of like that, too. Sure, it's essential to focus on your priorities. But life is fluid and full of curves–changes, stages, and junctures. And as fast as you figure out the order of one phase, you're already onto the next. An inflexible list of goals or priorities that doesn't accommodate change leaves much lacking. And every once in a while, those "small" goals can sneak up on you, and prove to be just as important—if not more—than the big ones.

Take spirituality and connecting to G‑d. I would call that a real "big rock" in the grand scheme of things. But suppose you were in the middle of your daily talk with G‑d, enraptured in prayer, deep in meditation, when you're interrupted by a loud knock on the door. A little kid who just fell and got a bloody nose is standing there, pitiful, and he's asking for your help. (Hey, it could even be your own kid.) How do you react? "Sorry kid, I'm focusing on my 'big rock's'—one sec, this may even be the biggest rock that I'm putting into place. I'm being really s-p-i-r-i-t-u-a-l. Come back a little later when I'm back to earth."

Or take the ideal of being a selfless and generous person. That's another "big rock" that we're meant to devote a lot of time. But suppose, at this particular instance in your life, you've overextended yourself. Maybe, at this moment, the greatest favor that you can do for others is to take care of yourself. So, is nurturing your own needs a little rock or a real big one? Is replenishing your own energy selfish or selfless?

Small rocks or big ones? Pebbles or sand? It's not that simple.

We need to keep reevaluating at every new bend. And we can't become so inflexible that life's pieces become so stuck in place that they prevent others from fitting in and making a more beautiful whole.

Because, in real life, we don't live in a box.

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.
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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