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Dear reader,

Who isn’t suffering nowadays? We’re surrounded by tragedy, difficulty and challenges. And then we open up the newspaper and we read about even more!

Yet, can the source of some of our misery possibly be that we view our lives in a limited way, believing that what we hold now represents how we always were and will be?

The truth is, of course, that our world is just a tiny snapshot of the infinite cosmic worlds, and we are seeing but a tiny dot of the full picture. But moreover, even within the here and now of our physical world, everything remains in a state of flux. We may not be aware of it, but at every moment there is enormous change. The shift may occur so slightly as to be imperceptible to our eyes and minds, but it is taking place.

In this week’s Torah portion, in one of the most moving accounts of hope emerging from within overwhelming darkness, the Torah records the first exchange between G‑d and Moses.

The Jewish people had been experiencing the severest tyranny of their Egyptian oppressors. G‑d commands Moses to reveal that He will be freeing them from bondage. Moses responds by asking what he should tell the Israelites is G‑d’s name.

Moses was requesting a message of solace and hope to bring to a broken people whose G‑d had seemingly turned a deaf ear to their anguish during the last many decades.

G‑d responds elusively. Moses should convey to the Hebrew slaves that G‑d’s name is “I will be what I will be.”

For a time, the slavery became worse after Moses’ message of hope. Though the seeds of redemption were sown, from the people’s perspective nothing had changed. And yet the situation was dramatically evolving.

Perhaps G‑d’s message to the downtrodden people is G‑d’s message to us in our moments of misery: we can connect to divinity with “I will be what I will be”—the power to be.

When we realize that being is inseparable from becoming, we can free ourselves from our anxieties and self-defeating habits.

When the blackness seems overpowering, when the tedious monotony is driving us to the brink of insanity, we can take comfort in the realization that nothing in our world remains static.

Not our present challenges. Nor who we are.

You, your life and your circumstances are an integral part of G‑d’s cosmic plan, emerging anew every instance. The present is only what we have brought from our pasts, and what we will use to forge into our immediate futures.

There is no static “is.” There is only what we were—and most importantly, what we choose to become.

Wishing you a liberating week!

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

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.

Dear reader,

Have you ever tried to access a common word, and you just couldn’t remember it? Or you’re ready to dial a favorite number, and your mind turns blank?

The other day, when I momentarily forgot a friend’s name, after misplacing my keys yet again, I started to worry. What was happening to my brain? Why couldn’t I access common words or names? Was this a sign of something going awry?

And so, when I went to my physician for a wellness checkup, I mentioned my concern. She inquired about my schedule, to give her a glimpse into my lifestyle. I mentioned the typical day, filled with myriad details, obligations and nonstop responsibilities, from family to work to community, from meeting deadlines to all the things that constantly tug at us without reprieve.

She smiled knowingly. “It sounds like a case of cluttered brain syndrome,” she reassured me. “It’s when our brain becomes so cluttered with the far too many responsibilities we are juggling that it momentarily finds it difficult to access basic information. The condition typically afflicts women more than men, since women generally are such multitaskers.”

I was relieved by my doctor’s diagnosis; now I had a syndrome on which to blame my lapses. It wasn’t that my dear friend wasn’t dear to me. And it wasn’t that a relative’s phone number wasn’t important to me. It was simply that my brain was on overload trying to juggle the big and small details of just getting through life.

And then it hit me that truthfully, we are all experiencing Cluttered Brain Syndrome on a far more global and cosmic scope.

Life in exile is compared to a dream. Just as a dream is full of contradictions and paradoxes, in exile we are fragmented beings not living in accordance with our priorities and values. It’s not that our connection to G‑d isn’t important to us. It is! It’s just that we’re overloaded, accessing the many minute details of daily living, that we don’t always behave in a way that is in tune with the greater picture.

On a microcosmic level, I’m not really sure what the cure is for my cluttered brain. After all, the tasks still need to be taken care of. But I do know that intuitively I’ve arranged my home to be as clear, orderly and serene as possible. I know, too, that I need to calm and remove as many stresses from my life as possible to focus—and refocus often—on the big picture.

On a cosmic level, too, we need to declutter by concentrating on what we know is of true value.

But ultimately, perhaps, the only absolute cure to this syndrome is to completely clear the static of our world and finally usher in an era of serenity, peace, prosperity—and clarity—for all of mankind. May it happen immediately!

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

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.

Dear reader,

It’s Chanukah once again!

Just when the nights get so long, so dark and so cold, we have these eight glorious and wondrous days of light and celebrations. As you sit by your menorah trying to absorb the special message of this holiday, please tell us what you like best about this holiday.

Below are some ideas. Tell us which of these you like best about Chanukah—and write to us your own thoughts about what Chanukah means to you, in the comment section below.

What do you like best about Chanukah…?

  • The presents or gifts of money.
  • The special family gatherings.
  • The bright light of the candles shining against the darkness.
  • Being offered doughnuts wherever you go.
  • Savory oily latkes.
  • Playing dreidel.
  • Chanukah’s message of a moral victory of right and light over darkness.

Also, please send us a picture of your special lit menorah and we’ll post some of the pictures that best capture the light of this joyous holiday on our TheJewishWoman Facebook page. Please make sure to friend us and like us to spread the message of light to others.

Wishing you a very happy Chanukah!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

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.

Dear readers,

A couple of weeks ago, I was lecturing on the West Coast and met some amazing women. In one location before my talk, an Israeli woman led us through a chapter of Psalms.

The woman’s voice was beautiful and as she sang, her face reflected the intensity of emotion that King David’s haunting words evoke. She sang in the original Hebrew about lifting our eyes to G‑d and finding our strength, no matter how dark or difficult our circumstances. I later learned that the woman’s daughter had been seriously ill, and after taking upon herself the mitzvah of separating challah, her daughter miraculously recovered.

After my talk, the woman approached me to thank me. She said she felt like I was speaking directly to her. But, she cautioned, as far as taking on mitzvot, she considered herself “a very secular Israeli who is not religious.”

I looked at her with utter disbelief and responded, “After watching you say that Psalm, with such intense faith, I consider you one of the most religious people I ever met! The emotions written all over your face clearly demonstrates your belief and trust in G‑d.”

I wasn’t sure how she would react to being called “religious,” but apparently she understood what I was saying. “Thank you,” she answered. “That is one of the nicest compliments I ever received.”

Often I’m confronted by Jews who don’t consider themselves “religious” and yet through their actions demonstrate just how strong their connection to their Source truly is. There are no “secular” Jews; every Jew is holy, and often their neshama is beating stronger than ever.

The Midrash teaches that Moses had a vision of the Jewish people at the end of times and he envied them. Though Moses experienced the greatest revelation of G‑d at Mount Sinai, he admired the simple character of Jews at the end of the long exile.

What did he see for which he was so envious?

He saw Jews who had been battered and badgered through a tortuous exile. He saw Jews who had been afflicted materially, emotionally and physically. He saw Jews who were enveloped in a spiritual darkness; Jews who were leaderless and directionless. He saw Jews who were on a lower level than any who preceded him.

And yet, he saw Jews who, despite their circumstances, despite the difficulties, held strong to their faith.

I think Moses must have seen that Israeli woman and the many others that I meet.

We have just started the month of Tevet, which is physically the darkest month of the year. As the last flames of our Chanukah menorah die down, we are surrounded by a world burning with hatred and craziness. I thank G‑d for regularly witnessing the miracle of Jews who, despite it all, are still holding on.

May the darkness of exile finally be brightened with the light of redemption.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

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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