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I've just discarded the last carton of matzah and swept away the last crunchy brown crumb into oblivion. I've stored the festive trays, dishes and platters that adorned our Passover table until the coming year. The pre-Passover weeks of tireless work of industrious cleaning, frenzied grocery shopping, cooking, serving and more cooking is now behind us.

Is there anything from the Festival of Freedom—other than the unwanted extra pounds from those multi-coursed late night meals—that should invigorate us for the remainder of the year and for the weeks ahead?

These are my thoughts on "the morning after" our more than week-long celebration. My reflection is broken by my three year old's demanding cry of "Mommy! Mommy!"

It's one of the many times in the day when my daughter is calling out to me for something.

Like most children, Sara Leah has been calling Mommy and Daddy since before her first birthday. Yet, unbeknown to her, encapsulated within those compact words is a universe of insight.

Mommy is not a mere word. It represents the essence of a deep, unbreakable relationship. It signifies protection, nurturance, support and warmth. It conveys the strength of a relationship built on trust, expectancy, dependence and the fulfillment of wants and needs. In its most absolute, rawest state, it means trust, unconditional love and unadulterated faith.

As every child cries out "Mommy" she doesn't actually comprehend how she is conveying these ideas. But nevertheless, as she expresses these words, she is deepening the bonds of this relationship.

Kabbalistically, the thoroughly compact matzah that we've just ingested represents the faith in our relationship with G‑d and the realization that everything in our world is from our Creator.

Kabbalistically, the matzah that we've just ingested in our eight day holiday represents emunah—the faith in our relationship with G‑d and the realization that everything in our world is from our Creator. The thoroughly compacted matzah represents the infinitely profound realization of our relationship as His children. It is a realization that extends way beyond our actual comprehension. But just like my child's cry, the eating of the matzah serves to fortify and nourish this relationship.

This is what the matzah represents—the unbreakable, deep bond in our relationship as the children of G‑d, our absolute trust and dependence on Him to nourish our physical and spiritual needs.

But to make this lofty, compact idea a part of our lives, to bring it down to our world, we need to work on strengthening the bonds of this relationship.

That is our job in the weeks ahead.

The matzah is gone, but its message remains. It has reminded us of this deep essential relationship, our inner belief and our hidden trust.

And now, it calls to us, to act upon this awareness.

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.

Passover is a time to experience liberation from those who tried to prevent us from reaching our potentials and living fully as Jews. It is also a time to retell our liberation from other persecutions throughout our long exile.

Kiev, 1941

"Batsheva, wake up!" Pinchas gently woke his daughter. "We cannot postpone it any longer. Today, you must start school," Pinchas said with a heavy sigh.

Batsheva nodded solemnly. Her parents had deferred the start of her official education for an entire year. But now the inevitable was to happen.

Though just a young child, Batsheva was mature. She was well aware that in the Soviet Union government-run schools were breeding grounds for indoctrinating its unsuspecting students in the communist philosophy. Many children succumbed to the brainwashing, some even turning against their own parents, in the name of "Mother Russia."

Remaining a religious Jew in a climate of such open hostility would be extremely difficult for young Batsheva.

In the Soviet Union, government-run schools were breeding grounds for indoctrinating its unsuspecting students in the communist philosophy.

Batsheva dressed quickly and prepared herself for school.

"But, Father," Batsheva timidly broached the topic at the breakfast table, "what will we do about Shabbat?"

In the Communist schools, classes were conducted on a seven day, rotational cycle, with the seventh day from any national holiday being a rest day. Some days, school would be closed on Shabbat, but on other weeks, the off-day might occur on any other day of the week.

It was illegal to observe Shabbat or mitzvot and suspicion would be aroused if Batsheva avoided school every Shabbat.

"G‑d will help," was her father's confident reply.

"But it is still many days away," her mother, Batya, soothed her. "Let's not worry now."

The following Shabbat, Pinchas cheerfully awoke his daughter. "Come, Batsheva, it is time."

"Today is Shabbat!" Batsheva was frantic.

"Shh! I've worked it out," Pinchas responded gently, urging her to keep quiet so no prying neighbors would overhear. "Come along."

Together, Pinchas and his young daughter walked several blocks, arriving at the physiotherapist's office.

Sveta was not Jewish but was an intelligent and obliging professional. Pinchas indicated the slight bend in his daughter's shoulder and Sveta began therapeutic massages and minor exercises. At the conclusion of the visit, Sveta duly recorded that she had seen Batsheva who would need ongoing treatment for her shoulder. Batsheva was consequently excused from school that day.

Pinchas and Batsheva headed home to begin their Shabbat meal, joyous that for the time being, they had preserved the sanctity of the day.

As Batsheva resumed her visits with the physiotherapist, Sveta became instrumental in Batsheva's release from school, and visits were purposefully conducted on the holy day of Shabbat.

Pinchas regularly found ways to clandestinely present Sveta with expensive gifts or monetary contributions so that these visits would continue at his convenience. This was their surreptitious, unspoken agreement.

On another occasion, Batsheva did attend school on Shabbat. But on two fingers of her right hand was a large bandage, making it impossible for her to write—and do any work that would be in violation of the laws of Shabbat. For a generous gift, a doctor provided a note verifying that Batsheva's finger was injured and could not be used.

For a generous gift, a doctor provided a note verifying that Batsheva's finger was injured and could not be used.

One time, when Pinchas and Batya began to fear that Sveta's appointments were becoming too frequent, and her bandaged fingers too suspicious, they tried a different scheme.

"Get dressed in your school clothing today," Batya instructed her daughter that Shabbat morning.

Batsheva guardedly observed her mother, but knew better than to question.

Pinchas and Batsheva headed purposefully in the direction of her school. But along the way, they made a sharp turn at the neighborhood park. They arrived a few moments before nine o'clock, the hour that classes commenced, and remained, talking and playing quietly until three in the afternoon, when classes concluded. Then, hand in hand, they walked home as if Pinchas had just arrived to fetch his daughter from a full day of studies.

To the snooping eyes of meddling neighbors or officials, Batsheva had attended school on Shabbat. Gratuitous gifts to Batsheva's teachers assured that her absences would be overlooked.

And indeed, Batsheva learned an essential lesson on each of those special Shabbats, a lesson that would be indelibly engraved in her heart—about the sanctity of the Torah and its mitzvot and about how the Jewish people would ultimately vanquish their oppressors.

The following year, the Second World War broke out, bringing with it its own challenges for Soviet Jewry. But one relief from the war was that formal schooling would no longer be compulsory for Batsheva. For the remainder of the war, as she was tutored by private teachers at home, the Sudaks would no longer need to seek creative means to avoid Batsheva's desecration of the holy Shabbat.

Today, Batsheva, my mother, is a Rebbetzin in Toronto, encouraging others to discover the joy of Shabbat, holidays and a Torah lifestyle—without the feat or anxiety that accompanied her so many years ago.

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.

One moment she was sitting upright on the kitchen chair, and the very next she was wailing from the floor. She had tumbled off and her startled cries were penetrating the silence.

Had she positioned her chair too distant from the table? Was she sitting properly or jumping clumsily, too perilously close to the edge of her chair? Was she being too fidgety?

Perhaps any and all of the above.

But did it matter? Right now, she was sitting forlorn on the floor, tears coursing down her reddened cheeks, howling in distress.

Don't we all fall? And don't we yearn for an empathetic embrace, a hug or a word of encouragement?

Did she get injured or was it merely the sudden shock that upset her? Was she really in pain, or was she making too big a deal of this?

I'm not sure.

But does it matter? Right now she sits crying. She is waiting. Waiting for me to scoop her up into my outstretched arms. Waiting for me to swathe her in my warm and loving embrace. Waiting for me to envelop her with empathy.

Then she wants to hear me asking her—and really listening—where does it hurt? She wants to point to it and have me kiss it away. This will make the bad, the frustration and the anger magically disappear. This will make it all better.

Now her tears have dried, her heaves of uncontrolled breathing have calmed. She's even flashed me her bright, sunny smile.

Now we can talk about the "next times." Now we can explore how to avoid these falls and stumbles in the first place. Now she is receptive. Now she will even suggest her own practical pointers.


She is my three-year-old in one of the ordinary and countless stumbles of her little every day life.

But don't we all fall? And don't we yearn for an empathetic embrace, a hug or a word of encouragement?

Perhaps we, too, were sitting too dangerously far away. Perhaps, we were being clumsy or careless.

Perhaps, we're even making too big a deal of the fall. Perhaps our small degree of hurt does not justify our vociferous and indignant outcry.

But does it matter? Does that mean that we don't deserve some generous words of empathy or love?


Imagine if every time our spouses, children or friends experienced a fall-out in life, we were there to greet them with the same three-phased response as my three-year-old:

1) I know it hurts. I'm sorry. I'm here with you.

2) Where does it hurt? How can I help make it better? How can I help you?

And only later, much later:

3) How do you think you can avoid a future fall? What have you learned from this?

Be generous with your hugs.

Because there is a three-year-old inner child within us all.


When is genuine empathy called for? Are there times when "tough love" is the right approach?

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.

The flight took off shortly before sunset. We were travelling west and thus against time. I sat transfixed watching the scenery out of my window as the sun was being suspended in time, and battling for over an hour to complete its path of retreat from the horizon, but never quite doing so.

Beneath us was a shadow of absolute blackness, but ahead was a fiery ball, a breathtaking combination of blood reds and seething oranges, casting lighter shades of pinks and mauves around the outward edges of its sphere.

The sky directly surrounding it was illuminated by the sun's brightness and its hues were graduating from lighter tones of azure to traces of deep navies and midnight blues and finally, an intense, bottomless black. We were flying against the enveloping darkness, and, with our constant movement, keeping it at bay.

Sunset, like sunrise, is a special moment in our day that is heart-stirring; a moment that is replete with such beauty.

As I gazed at it from my plane seat, I wondered why we are so entranced by these occurrences. Of course, we are overtaken by the magnificence of the scenery, and by the unique colour combinations of the dipping and rising sun. But, perhaps on an inner, intuitive level, we perceive and value much more. Each sunset and sunrise metaphorically represents to us something about our own lives that we discover within each of these moments.

Each sunset and sunrise metaphorically represents to us something about our own lives that we discover within each of these moments.

Witnessing the mounting sun breaking through the austere darkness creating the dawn of a promising new day, we instinctively sense our own personal surge of hope, our own glimmer of light. In that instant, we, too, are reinvigorated by fresh rays of sunshine illuminating the unwelcoming, darker circumstances of our own lives.

And though the sun setting superficially means the arrival of the dreary darkness of the night—and the bleak, lonely circumstances of our lives—perhaps we innately grasp that even within this encounter, there is a also a prospect for new growth.


While angels are stagnant and unvarying, human beings are called "movers", journeyers, who constantly experience change and progress in their lives, enabling them to transform themselves into the people they are meant to be.

Unlike the constant static moments of the day, both the rising and setting sun represent to us this movement. They are our reminders of a new stage in life and as such represent the potential to unearth a newfound beauty that wasn't present in the fixed sunny midday hours or in the dark, stationary evening hours.

Perhaps we intuitively appreciate the glory of the setting sun, because as humans, we embrace opportunity--even one that may mean a darker circumstances—so that we can find within it, its own light.

How have you taken a sunset in your life and found within it beauty?

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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