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“It feels like paradise here!” I gushed over the phone. In mid-February, I was sitting under a tall palm tree in temperatures soaring to the high eighties. I had left our frigid, snow-covered New Jersey streets that morning, and I was letting my husband know that I had arrived safely. “Can you imagine living in such a warm climate year-round?” I enthused.

“If we’d live there all the time, we probably wouldn’t appreciate it,” was his wise response.

For many of us, it’s been an awfully long, cold and snowy winter. But as the temperatures have finally begun to thaw, spring is beckoning.

The dawn of spring ushers in change, growth and rebirth. The bare trees begin to bud, the birds chirp and the first flowers bloom. But without the stark winter, without its frigid winds and icy snow, would we really appreciate the spring as much? Don’t we anxiously await the spring’s arrival precisely because we’ve just been through the long and harsh winter?

This week, we celebrate Rosh Chodesh Nissan. Before long, we’ll be sitting at our regal Seder celebrating our freedom as a nation. The holiday of Passover always falls in the spring; Passover, too, is a season of new beginnings.

Surrounded by fresh buds, we better appreciate our journey as a budding nation. Emerging from the imprisonment of frigid coldness, we can better experience our liberation. As the vegetation breaks out of the frozen ground, we too break free from our limitations.

This week on TJW, check out our Rosh Chodesh Nissan site for lots of great ideas and inspiring articles. To prepare the holiday cooking, you’ll want to read Why You Need to Love your Freezer. If you become irritable from all the work ahead, My Irritable Mood is for you. And if you enjoy creative projects, you’ll love our crafting article on How to Make Your Own Silver Seder Cups.

On a more personal note, this week literally marks my own beginnings. More than eight decades ago, Rosh Chodesh Nissan marked the birth of my beloved father, Rabbi Dovid Schochet, who still serves as a brilliant, esteemed and caring rabbi, mentor and so much more to me and so many others. And then, two days later marks the wedding anniversary of my parents, officiated by the Lubavitcher Rebbe himself, who assigned my parents their life’s work in leading the Jewish community of Toronto. Happy birthday, Daddy! Happy anniversary, Mommy and Daddy! May G‑d grant you both many more years of tremendous accomplishment in full health and happiness.

Let’s take a deep breath and enjoy the wisps of the fresh spring air, as we begin our journey towards liberation.

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,

I was pondering the following question: Is too much of a good thing better, or is it not good at all?

My initial response was: what could be bad about having more of a good thing? But, if you think about it, too much of even good things can be downright damaging.

And I’m not talking about sweets. We all know that an occasional treat can be good (like my stash of chocolate for those afternoon cravings!), but that too much is not beneficial.

I’m referring to qualities that are inherently positive. Take kindness or compassion, as examples. Can you have too much kindness?

Actually, yes.

If we don’t temper our kindness with a measure of discernment, kindness can become destructive.

A parent who acts with too much kindness towards his child, without any measure of discipline or judgment, will suffocate him. On the other hand, a parent who callously withholds kindness is similarly acting destructively.

Withholding charity from those in need is cruel. But, at the same time, supporting a drug addict’s habit is also an act of cruelty.

Notice how one quality, dished out in extremes, either too much or too little, can produce the same negative outcome. Perhaps this is what Maimonides meant when he taught that we should seek a “golden medium” in our character traits, and strive not to exhibit extreme behavior.

So, how about modesty? Nowadays, the concept of modesty generates so much confusion that it’s actually difficult to find its golden medium.

In one polar extreme, there are cultures with such rigid modesty laws that women are forced to cover themselves literally from head to toe, and to basically become invisible.

At the other extreme, there are such loose standards of modesty that women feel obligated to parade themselves with almost no coverage. As a result, their real self, their talents and qualities, also become invisible, overshadowed by physical attributes.

Both cultures claim to be protecting and respecting women, their rights and freedoms. Ironically, both are actually demeaning and objectifying women in the worst possible manner.

So, is modesty a positive quality that we should strive for? Is there a “golden medium”? Or is modesty just something that becomes corrupted by extremes—both of which debase women and femininity?

How does Judaism define modesty? And is this elusive concept applicable to men, too?

These are the questions that we explore this week in Will Modesty Please Take a Stand. We take a deeper look into the much-misunderstood and -maligned quality of modesty, as we strive to find a proper balance in our lives.

Looking forward to reading your thoughts and comments.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

P.S.: Also on the topic of women, Rochel Holzkenner gives us much to ponder in Fighting Ire with Fire, as does Yanki Tauber in his classic The Wonder that is Woman. And with Passover just around the corner, you’ll want to read 10 Steps to a More Serene Passover. Happy preparations!

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,

At our Friday night meal, my daughter shared with us an incredible story that she heard in school (taken from the book Aleinu L’Shabe’ach).

Yitzchak Slutzky was a 16-year-old boy whose family was murdered by the Nazis. He and his little sister managed to escape and hide in a dank underground cellar. Yitzchak would venture outside only to find provisions.

One time, Yitzchak returned to find his sister missing. His neighbors confirmed his worst fears, pointing to the Nazi headquarters at the center of the village.

Disregarding his own safety, Yitzchak burst into the building screaming, “Bring me my sister, now!”

Contemptuously, the Nazi commander replied, “I’ll give you back your sister on one condition. Open your palm and show me that there is hair on it.”

Obediently, Yitzchak held out his hand. The commander nearly fainted. There was hair growing on his palm!

“Give him his sister,” the frightened commander shouted. “And get him out of here immediately!”

Yitzchak and his sister survived the war.

Nine years earlier, Yitzchak had injured his hand and was rushed to the hospital. The doctor performed a skin graft, but the transplanted skin had hair growing from it, and hair continued to grow from his palm ever since.

“My mother was very grateful that my hand healed, but was distressed by its abnormal appearance. She would tell me to hide my hand in my pocket,” Yitzchak recalled. “My friends would tease me, and I was so embarrassed by its strange sight. Only G‑d knew that the hair growing on my hand’s palm would one day save my little sister.”

G‑d’s ways are indeed mysterious.

There are times in our lives when we can look back at a chain of events and finally understand why it had to happen. Sometimes, it can take many years—nine for Yitzchak—until comprehension dawns. And sometimes, we may never merit understanding. We are just left with our belief that our Creator seeks only our good.

This week we celebrated the holiday of Purim. The Jews in Persia merited to clearly see how the intricate chain of events was the prelude to their miraculous victory.

This week on TJW, we begin an amazing new blog by Chana Scop called Simply Special: A Mother’s Endless Love for Her Special-Needs Son. Through her poignant and deep posts, Chana teaches us so much about finding the good even in the challenging moments of our lives.

In Me Vs. We, Penina Taylor describes what she learned about the Jewish community through her parent’s tragic passing.

May the day quickly dawn when we too can understand how the stage of exile has been set only for our benefit, as we prepare for the ultimate redemption.

Chana Weisberg,

Editor, TJW

Join the Discussion

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,

I went out to lunch with a very dear friend the other day, soon after returning from a lecture tour. Though this friend has experienced her fair share of life’s hardships, she is overflowing with simchat hachayim, a special joie de vivre. Sure, she can get down during rough times, but she quickly bounces back to her natural state of optimism.

I was telling her (yet again) how envious I am of her personality.

Half-jokingly she responded, “Well, Chana, if I have such innate joy, why is it that you are the one traveling around lecturing about meaning, purpose and happiness, while I stay behind just practicing it?”

Not missing a beat, I explained to her, “My dear, you just don’t get it. When I get up in front of my audiences to speak about these concepts, I am lecturing to myself. And, believe me, I’m not an easy customer! As I say my shpiel, my cynical self asserts itself and rebuts my entire line of thinking, and I have to come up with a more powerful and convincing argument. On the other hand, being the person you are, overflowing with joy, you have no motivation to look inward and deeper to find a more powerful response.”

While we both laughed, truthfully, my words were said only half in jest.

We all are unique beings. Each of us has strong points and talents that come easily. We also each have our own set of challenges. By working through those very challenges, we hopefully develop into stronger and better people.

So, while we can appreciate and admire the good qualities of those around us, let’s also realize that through the very challenges and limitations that stretch us to the maximum, we find our true sense of self and purpose.

This coming Thursday is the Fast of Esther, with Purim following closely after. This week we take a peek behind the scenes to explore the secret character of our heroine, Esther. In the moment of her greatest pain and sacrifice, Esther found her greatest courage, bringing salvation to her people.

We also take a look at The True Nature of Laughter, and how laughter comes from the realization that in a split second our situation can change entirely.

So, this week, pat yourself on the back for the many challenges in your life that you are successfully dealing with.

Let’s increase our joy, and spread happiness and laughter as we remember that this is a month of miracles. And let’s pray for the ultimate miracle, when the very source of our sorrows will be transformed into our greatest joys.


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,

My youngest daughter is always asking me to tell her a story.

But no matter how many stories I read during my work for, somehow, at bedtime I can’t remember even one!

It’s a disconnect, a compartmentalization of my work and home time.

I think many of us compartmentalize—and it’s not always to our benefit.

We might be in a situation where we feel frightened, but the adult in us tells us to put on a brave face so our children won’t realize how desperate we really are. Or, we might be feeling extremely frustrated by a turn of events, but we put it aside for later (without even realizing how much we are snapping in the interim!).

But suppose, instead, we share our experiences with those we love.

Suppose we tell our children, “I’m feeling very sad. I’m putting on cheerful music, and I’ll work on thinking more positively.” Or suppose we share with our friends, “I need some time out to ask G‑d to help”—and invite them to join. Or suppose we verbalize to our spouses our progress from frustration to acceptance, and ultimately to a recognition that we actually are so blessed.

When push comes to shove, many of us may feel G‑d’s presence very deeply in our hearts. We may even be able to tap into and access that faith. But how many of us share those deep-down feelings, and spontaneous prayers, openly and regularly, with those around us?

Isn’t the greatest gift that we can give to our loved ones the gift of seeing us coping with real life challenges, while struggling—and hopefully succeeding—in finding that solid core within?

I was recently stranded at an airport in a faraway city, and I experienced my own little everyday “miracle.” The miracle wasn’t the point, but rather, the great learning opportunity that I could now share with my family (and family of readers!).

I could explain to my children that I had been in a situation where I needed G‑d’s help. We could discuss what we do when we feel such desperation. When is it appropriate to pray, and when is it time to accept and let go? And what role do miracles play in our everyday lives?

It was my chance to share my little intimate episode of faith.

And . . . it made a great bedtime story.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

P.S.: This week is Rosh Chodesh Adar II, the month in which we celebrate the miracle of Purim and G‑d’s revealed presence in our lives. As we ride through life, let’s turn up the volume of our joy and hold firm to our faith.

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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