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I have a friend who carefully orchestrates her children’s lives. Her oldest daughters are now grown and, following their mother’s lead, have made friends with the “right” connections, have gone to the “right” schools and have been involved in all the “right” activities. Both have grown into smart and responsible individuals—albeit sometimes lacking a certain confidence in their own life choices.

My friend’s youngest daughter is still in her tumultuous teen years. Unlike her sisters, she has a more independent streak and doesn’t appreciate her mother’s constant involvement.

Raising children is like tightrope walking. How much freedom and how much direction? How much do we insist and how much do we trust? Are we steering them gently or meddling too much?

This week’s Torah portion, Toldot, describes the birth of Jacob and Esau, who couldn’t be more different from one another. Jacob personified piety, while Esau was an individual challenged by an inborn evil inclination. But Esau was never meant to become Jacob; rather, his mission was to overcome his temptation despite his strong propensity for evil.

As explained in Educating our Children, “our job is not to mold our children into a replica of our ideal. It is to enable them to use their tendencies, talents and, yes, deficiencies, to their maximum.”

This week we feature Hear Me Out, the inspiring story of how a mother of a deaf child helped him achieve his unique potential. We also feature Harmony, a short video produced by Tzohar seminary students exploring how beauty is a harmonious balancing act, blending together a multitude of colors.

Whether in learning to believe in ourselves, or in seeking to eradicate our own negative thoughts, we all seek beauty in our lives. Perhaps, as the Harmony video proclaims, our success lies in focusing on incorporating “all of the notes of the song, all the colors of the rainbow”—the highs and the lows, the control and the trust, the giving in and the sticking to our principles—into one harmonious whole.

Sure, it sounds overwhelming. But as our Frazzled to Focus coach assures us, “it’s not about finishing all the work, but about doing our part.”

How do you create harmony and beauty in your life?

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.

As I read through this week’s selections, I had a hard time figuring out what to highlight in my editor’s note. Each article, essay and piece of advice was better than the next!

And that’s when it hit me that this dilemma is so appropriate for this week, when we read the Torah portion of Chayei Sarah, about Sarah’s death after 127 years.

Rashi comments that each of Sarah’s years was so full and consistently perfect, achieving at every moment exactly what she needed, so that no stage of her life could be said to be better than the next.

And that’s when it also occurred to me that this really is the underlying message of each of the consistently great articles this week. No matter what stage in life we find ourselves, we need to fill each of our moments with meaning and purpose.

. . . Whether we are caught in some waiting room, whiling away the minutes, impatiently awaiting our turn.

. . . Or we’re experiencing a different kind of waiting, hoping that our silent, longed-for prayers will finally be answered through our latest infertility treatment.

. . . Or if we’re sharing the precious last moments of a life’s journey with a beloved mother, as she inhales her last breaths of life.

Our matriarch Sarah was physically and spiritually a beautiful woman. She encapsulated the concept of modesty, and this is what made each moment of her life so full. As Samantha Barnett writes, “modesty gives us a guideline for how to access the unlimited beauty within us. It further challenges others to come and experience the depth of that beauty.”

Wishing you a beautiful week in which you live in the moment.

Each and every one of them.

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.

October 13, 2013

Do you commemorate the yahrtzeit (date of passing) of a parent or grandparent, a relative or close friend? A yahrtzeit is a meaningful day when we remember the special qualities of the person who has departed.

But how many of us commemorate the yahrtzeit of a great-great-great grandparent?

This Tuesday, the 11th of Cheshvan, marks the date of the passing of our matriarch Rachel. Interestingly, of all our patriarchs and matriarchs, hers is the only date that is still noted, centuries later. I believe this is because her life personifies her ongoing historic role as the quintessential mother sacrificing for her children.

Rachel died during childbirth, giving her own life for her child. She was buried on a deserted roadside, so that her descendants could pass by her gravesite as they were exiled from their land and pour out their hearts asking her to beg G‑d for mercy.

With her boundless wellspring of love, Rachel sacrificed for her children in her life and in her death. And, G‑d promises, it is to her voice that He will ultimately listen as He redeems us from our exile.

This week, in honor of Rachel, we pay tribute to motherhood, the laughter and joy, the tears, the moments of silence, the mother’s ability to transmit Jewish identity, and her boldness and fearlessness.

Whether or not you are a biological mother, we can all “mother” someone with love and compassion, as exemplified so heroically by Mama Rochel.

Wishing you a nurturing 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.

Difficult people. Difficult situations. Difficult life circumstances.

Do you ever feel like the difficulties of your life are overwhelming, robbing you of your sense of serenity?

In this week’s Torah’s portion, Lech Lecha, Abraham and Sarah are told to leave the comforts of their homeland and birthplace—and all that they hold dear to them—and travel to a foreign land, where they encounter terrible turmoil.

Using Abraham and Sarah’s example, Finding G‑d During Tough Times provides context on how to get through spiritual and psychological challenges.

In Sensitivity, our popular Infertility Blogger, Zehava Deer, pokes hilarious fun at the ill-mannered people she often meets, and in her characteristic way she finds an illuminating lesson even from those obnoxious encounters.

In Moody, Miserable and Mean, best-selling author Sara Chana Radcliffe helps us deal with someone who is all the above—even if that person happens to be our own child!

But what touched me most this week was being privileged to meet Jackie Silver through her article What Are Your (Dis)Abilities? Jackie is a very courageous young woman who despite her debilitating disability refuses to let her challenges control her, but consistently chooses to focus instead on her many abilities!

And finally, this week we also launch a brand-new column called The Court of Jewish Life, which will present a whole assortment of social, monetary and ethical dilemmas through the perspective of Jewish law. In keeping with this week’s theme of difficult people and situations, one distraught new home owner wants to know, Can My Neighbor Prevent Me from Building My Dream Home? Find out what the Court of Jewish Law decides.

So, as much as we wish it, challenges just don’t usually just disappear.

How do you deal with the challenges of your life? Please share with us in the comment section below.

Wishing you a challenge-free week.

Or, at the very least, a fresh perspective in dealing with yours.

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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