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Dear Readers,

How are you enjoying Passover so far? Wherever you may be, I hope you are having a wonderful time.

Passover is a festival of liberation. We became free people, no longer enslaved to our Egyptian masters.

Being enslaved has two parts to it. There is the physical circumstance of slavery—the torturous existence of being subjected, day after day, to the merciless whip of the taskmaster. But there is also psychological slavery—the slave’s mindset and conviction.

Mitzrayim denotes limitations, which we all have to certain degrees. For some, that may mean severe financial problems; for others, it could be serious health issues. And for still others, it may be the burden of an arduous psychological environment. These are the circumstances that constrain us.

But then come our own internal shackles. Even once freed from the abuse or suffering of our past, we may still be living a life inhibited by our own fear, pain or trauma.

We may become freed from our external Egypt, but if Pharaoh has come out with us, essentially, he continues to have full control, mastering our psyche. Our specific set of circumstances may have improved, but our life’s tumultuous inner terrain remains the same.

On the seventh day of Passover, we celebrate the splitting of the Red Sea. Even once they had been redeemed from Egypt, the Jews remained fearful of the Egyptian’s great might and power. Only after the sea split—and they saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore—could they finally experience complete liberation.

It’s easy to think of ourselves as free when we’ve overcome an externally imposed limitation. We may be shocked, however, to discover that Pharaoh is still pursuing us even after we’ve escaped his Egypt. But the abuser closing in on us is the Pharaoh that we’ve allowed to accompany us.

So how do we eradicate these demons from our inner world? How do we transcend the personal Egypt within ourselves?

By splitting our inner sea.

To split the sea, G‑d “turned the sea into dry land.” Deep beneath the sea water lies buried a vibrant, beautiful inner life. The sea is a metaphor for material existence, which hides the G‑dly life force that maintains our exis­tence. To transform the sea into dry land means to reveal that neither we, nor our world, are separate from G‑d; that G‑d alone has full control over our lives and knows what’s best for us.

Only by revealing our deep inner truth—our infinite power coming from our infinite connection to the Divine force within us—can we hope to attain our complete liberation. Only then can we fully leave the demons of our past behind us.

Wishing you a very liberating chag!

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,

This coming Tuesday is the 11th of Nissan, the anniversary of the birth of the Rebbe.

Many years ago, the head of a Jewish organization came to the Rebbe shortly before Passover. “I have a proposal,” he told the Rebbe. “This year at Passover, let us all remember those who perished in the Holocaust.

“Let every Jewish family set an empty chair at their seder in memory of those who were exterminated because they were Jews and who therefore cannot join a seder.”

The Rebbe, however, was not fully pleased with his suggestion. Characteristically, he responded to these good intentions by asking, “But why should the extra chair remain empty? Let every Jewish family fill the extra chair (or even two chairs!) with a Jew—a Jew who otherwise would not be at a seder or a Jew who perhaps does not know the meaning of a seder. By filling the empty chair, we have achieved the best memory—and revenge—for the Six Million who perished.”

This coming Friday night, Jews the world over will sit down to their festive Passover seder. Passover is a time of liberation and freedom, and yet as we look around the world, there is so much fear and terror, so much loneliness and isolation, as well as so much poverty and suffering.

Over the last year, much has happened too to Jews in Israel and around the world. The lives of too many of our brethren have been snuffed out through bombs, knives or bullets, simply because they were Jews. As the Passover festivities quickly approach, perhaps it is an opportune time to give a moment of thought to some of those empty chairs—of beloved fathers and mothers or sisters and brothers—who will be so sorely missed from their family gatherings.

And perhaps, too, in their honor and as revenge for their brutally spilled blood, we should think of how we can each add a chair with a living Jew at our own seders. Perhaps we can bring a smile to a lonely or anguished soul who would appreciate being with us at our table, or we can reach out to a Jew who may not know what Passover is all about.

Wishing you a very joyous Passover! May this season of liberation finally bring liberty and peace to our world!

Chag Sameach!

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,

As a parent, it’s your greatest moment of triumph.

You’ve momentarily left the playroom. Your son begins to taunt his older sister. You’re about to rush in as referee to prevent the impending battle, when you pleasantly discover that your daughter hasn’t taken the bait. Instead of fighting back, retorting angrily or using her fists, she chooses a different response. She calmly explains to her brother—mimicking the soothing voice you try so hard to use—that she loves him too much to fight, and then distracts him with another activity.

Weeks, months and years of effective parenting have paid off! Your child has internalized your values.

This Shabbat before Pesach is called Shabbat Hagadol, the “Great Shabbat.”

After eight decades of being victim to the Egyptians’ merciless cruelty, on the 10th of Nissan, on Shabbat, the Israelites prepare a paschal lamb. They explain to the Egyptians that G‑d instructed them to offer a sacrifice on the 14th of Nissan—the night of their redemption, and the night that G‑d would slay all the Egyptian firstborn.

Hearing this, the Egyptian firstborn plead with Pharaoh to liberate the Jews. When Pharaoh refuses, they rise up in an armed revolt. Many Egyptians died in battle.

This revolt was titled a “great miracle,” and it is commemorated every year on the Shabbat before Passover. These Egyptian firstborn finally understood the folly of their evil and sided with Moses, actively attacking their own government.

Chassidic thought explains that the greatest victory is not in fighting evil, but rather transforming it into good.

When the enemy becomes a friend and defender . . . When a negative inclination works energetically for good . . . When darkness is changed into light . . . When destruction becomes the impetus for building . . . And, when a powerful group of firstborn sons finally stands up against the ills of their society by defending those whom they had so wrongly mistreated.

Interestingly, the 10th of Nissan also marks the date of Miriam’s yahrtzeit, years later, after the Exodus. From a young age, Miriam fearlessly stood up against King Pharaoh when he instructed her to kill all the Jewish male newborns. Despite the hardships, despite the pain, one woman fanned the flame of faith of all the Jewish women of her generation, and succeeded in transforming their perspective with her courage and kindness.

This Shabbat is also called the “great” Shabbat because the haftorah speaks of the coming of Moshiach, referring to this day as the yom Hashem hagadol v’hanora, the “great” and awesome day of the L‑rd (Malachi 3:23).

This great and utopian era will not be a time of destruction, but of transformation; it will not be about commanding, but about communicating. It will not be about fighting, but about educating and changing the mindset of our foes, just as the perspective of the firstborns was positively altered.

May this week’s great Shabbat finally usher in this great and awesome time period!

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,

Last week, my granddaughter strung together her first couple of words. Yesterday, my grandson took his first step.

These were special moments and extraordinary accomplishments on my grandchildren’s journey toward maturation. But these moments were the culmination of weeks and months of efforts. My granddaughter didn’t suddenly begin to speak, just as my grandson didn’t suddenly learn to walk.

Acquiring language is a complex process. From the moment they are born, babies start to learn this skill. First, they organize sensory information, disentangling sounds and categorizing them. Then they learn to recognize the meaning in all that noise. And from now until she enters school, my granddaughter will be learning the meaning of about eight new words a day to master a mind-boggling 11,000 words.

Similarly, my grandson didn’t learn how to walk in one day. From the moment he was born, his legs and muscles were growing stronger and more disciplined. First, he learned how to sit up, then to co-ordinate his arms and legs by crawling. Finally, he pulled himself up and gained the necessary balance to take that momentous step forward.

And yet, when we look at these young children, we often don’t recognize all that is going on within enabling them to acquire these skills.

Because growth and change are continuous, even without us realizing it.

As you woke up this morning, did you sense the feeling that spring was in the air? Before long, the barren trees that greeted us all winter will be weighed down by bright-green leaves, with the scent of budding flowers in the air tantalizing us.

When was the moment that spring had sprung? While we may not have noticed, throughout the barren desolate winter, deep within the frozen soil, the necessary rejuvenation was already taking place.

This week, we welcome the month of Nissan, which is a month of miracles and the month that we celebrate Passover, our freedom from Egyptian bondage. We adjust the calendar so that the month of Nissan always arrives in the spring season.

After Moses delivered a message of hope and freedom, the tyranny and suffering of the Jewish slaves in Egypt became worse. But while externally their hardships were intensifying, the potential of their freedom was preparing to burst through the unyielding surface. Despite the desperation of their situation, after hundreds of years in exile, the Jewish people marched triumphantly out of Egypt.

And perhaps this is the message of the Jewish people’s liberation in this season. Even in moments when we feel frozen-over, impoverished and stripped of our strength, we need to remember the growth and positive change taking place deep within. Our situation may look bleak, but we canbreak free from our own restraints by realizing and accessing the hidden reservoirs buried within.

May this month of miracles finally bring us the long-awaited redemption, as all of humanity springs forth into an era of peace and prosperity.

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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