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Dear Readers,

Ever ask anyone to describe “heaven”? Undoubtedly, you’ll hear a range of definitions and expectations. For one, it is a spiritually sensitive celestial abode. For another, it is a luscious piece of rich, decadent chocolate. To each person, this word means something different—based on his or her individuality.

This week we commemorate Gimmel Tammuz, the yahrtzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zy”a. When you ask someone to define what the Rebbe means to him or her, you too will get a whole range of definitions and emotions, based on what the Rebbe encapsulates to each unique individual.

At the core, though, I believe that the Rebbe gifted us with a more profound perspective on how to look at ourselves and our reality. And since each of us is so unique and different, this gift can be expressed through so many different lenses.

This week at TJW, we explore how various individuals look at and relate to that deeper, more enriching reality.

It was a pleasure for me to work on our special feature this week, a video farbrengen with Mashi Lipskar, veteran shlucha in South Africa, where this filming took place. In the more relaxed and spiritually growth-oriented format of a farbrengen, Mashi eloquently explores the Rebbe’s gift of shlichus, reaching out to others. If you’ve never been at a farbrengen—and even if you have—this is a must watch!

In Three Kinds of Love, I share what the Rebbe taught me about the meaning of love, and how it can radically revolutionize our concepts of love and self.

Chaya Shuchat, our Parshah columnist, shares the perspective she gained from the Rebbe on achieving unity between people of diverse backgrounds in her essay Peaceful Coexistence.

This week we also reprint an excellent classic article by academic Susan Handelsman, on the Rebbe’s gift to her on the revolutionary role of women.

Resembling an Angel of G‑d is our tribute to a special woman, Mrs. Keny Deren, a model educator, whose warmth, vision and values personified what she learned and absorbed from the Rebbe.

And finally, through her personal musings, our Simply Special blogger, Chana Scop, shares her life with her special son, Chaim Boruch. Underlining her poignant thoughts, her outlook on life is infinitely enriched from Rebbe’s attitude towards special children.

Even our Women of Distinction column this week sheds light on the Rebbe’s perspective on converts as we explore the life and transformed transformed identity of Batyah, daughter of King Pharaoh who became Batyah, daughter of G‑d.

So sit back, relax and get ready to read a whole bunch of very different people’s enhanced perspectives on a whole range of topics that are sure to enhance your own.

And, as you read, a decadent piece of luscious chocolate wouldn’t hurt.

Chana Weisberg,

Editor, TJW

P.S. I just received the devastating news about our kidnapped boys. Our hearts go out to the families and we join all the rest of the Jewish people in mourning this horrific tragedy. May G‑d comfort their families.

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.

Dear readers,

This past week I found the following e‑mail in my inbox:

Dear Chana,

So the seasons have changed, the winter has turned to spring and spring is turning into summer, and as I evaluate the changing seasons of my own life, I am desperate to change my mindset and move towards a positive path.

I want to fix my ineffective coping strategies. I find myself wanting to flee my circumstances, which bring anxiety, insomnia and the inability to see G‑d’s guiding hand in my life. This is holding me back from getting a healthy outlook and the freedom I am so desperate to gain.

I’ve been watching your classes for almost 3 years now. I have so much admiration and respect for you. Is there anything you can suggest so I can finally break out of my limitations and hasten my personal redemption?

Seeking Freedom

The question made me really stop and think. She wanted and expected an answer.

From me!

And yet, don’t I find myself dealing with the same issue? Don’t we all feel like we wish we had freedom and a renewed perspective that allowed us to have a healthy, happy and positive outlook on life?

And so, before responding, I had to really think about what I could do to create more of that positivity in my own life. Here’s what I came up with:

Dear SF,

Changing a mindset is a huge goal. The problem with huge goals is that they can be so daunting that we become too intimidated to even try.

Instead, how about a small step that might just refresh your frame of mind and set you in the right direction?

When you wake up in the morning—even before you get out of bed—list for yourself five things, big or small, that you should be grateful for. Here’s a few examples: that the sun is shining; being under a warm blanket with a roof protecting you; a pretty shirt that you own; your family; a job (even if it just covers—or doesn’t cover!—the basic expenses); the food in your fridge; your home.

Take a moment to sincerely thank G‑d for these gifts. In the evening before going to bed, do the same.

No matter what is or isn’t going right in your life right now, for those few moments focus on those positive thoughts and feelings of gratitude, as you concentrate on what you have rather than on what is lacking.

Then, during the day, when you catch yourself getting into a negative pattern, take a moment to stop, think and say—and truly mean—“G‑d is running this world and my life. This situation is exactly the circumstance that I am supposed to be dealing with right now. G‑d will give me the strength to handle it.”

I hope this helps a little. Would love to hear back.

So, what do you do when you want a change of mindset?

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

P.S. This Tuesday evening, in preparation for Gimmel Tammuz, the 20th Yahrtzeit of the Rebbe, TJW brings you a must-watch, live video farbrengen with Mashi Lipskar, veteran shlucha of South Africa. In the less formal setting of a farbrengen, it is sure to inspire you and refresh your frame of mind as Mashi addresses The Rebbe's Marching Orders for Each of Us.

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 other evening, after I had lectured at a program, I had the opportunity to get to know the woman who had organized it. She was an intelligent, hardworking, yet unassuming individual whose warmth was obvious in her every gesture.

After playing some Jewish geography, she asked if I knew her mother, who is a very wise and well-known speaker. “I’m the quiet and shy one in the family,” she joked.

She then shared with me a beautiful childhood story.

Years ago, her father o.b.m. was driving her to one of her first presentations. For the entire duration of the drive she was telling him how nervous she was.

At first, her father, a very compassionate man, commiserated with her and tried to ease her fears. But as the minutes ticked on and she was becoming even more apprehensive, he finally said, “Do you realize that all your anxiety is coming from your ego?”

“What?” she responded, surprised.

“Of course,” he answered. “The only reason you are afraid is because you are worried about your success. You are apprehensive that you will make a total fool of yourself. It’s really all about your own ego.”

His words had the desired effect, calming her substantially.

Her story made me think, too, of all the things that our egos prevent us from doing.

Aren’t all our fears of failure ego-based? And don’t those fears stop us from even trying? How about our fears of meeting new people, or feeling anxious about how they will respond to us? Or our fear of a new job interview or a new challenge—aren’t those too just our ego asserting itself?

While we know that our egos are responsible for making us arrogant, our egos can equally be responsible for creating feelings of smallness and failure, preventing us from even trying. So, while an ego is important for recognizing talents and strengths, let’s not let our egos get in the way of allowing us to reach our positive goals.

This week at TJW, we explore this concept. Watch our video Make it or Break it, or read our Parshah essays A Tale of Two Wives and Immunity, to gain a better understanding on the role that egos played in the lives of two very different individuals.

In My Special Son, read a vivid personal portrayal of how an egoless life can have such a positive impact.

This week we also feature a calming meditation in our Chassidic Guided Imagery section, to help your mind travel to a place of increased spiritual awareness.

I have filed in my mind my friend’s childhood story, and hope I remember it at future occasions.

Because, the next time I feel too small or too incapable or too nervous, I will ask myself, Is it just my ego?

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.

Dear readers,

Public speaking is the number-one fear in North America. But aside from the fear or anxiety that it generates, lecturing in front of an audience is also extremely humbling.

It’s not just the fact that all those eyes are focused solely on you right now. And it’s not only that they are judging you, soundlessly pronouncing verdicts in their minds about every word that you utter and how you do so. And it doesn’t even necessarily depend on how large your group of participants will be.

The other day I had a fight with my husband—one of those fights that married couples tend to have. That night, I was scheduled to lecture about the secrets of successful relationships. As my husband drove me to my destination (two hours away), and we sat in argumentative silence (as only married couples know how to do), I was in no mood to lecture at a lectern about relationships.

The other month, I was flying out to speak about finding greater meaning in life. It had been a wearying week, with aggravating people (as only my colleagues can be) and issues at work bombarding me nonstop. As I groggily dragged myself to catch my 6 AM flight, knowing it would be a jam-packed day, I felt anything but inspirational. I wanted to be anywhere but in front of a crowd speaking about bringing more inspiration into our lives.

And as I caught myself in both situations, focused on how I was feeling—or more correctly, not feeling—it suddenly dawned on me that this was not about me at all.

There were people who had worked really hard to organize and advertise these events. There were attendees who were at all walks and stages of their lives who were carving time in their schedules to attend because they needed to feel strengthened, to be inspired, to be encouraged, to learn and to grow.

So why, I reprimanded myself, was I thinking about myself or how I was feeling? This wasn’t about me or my moods at all. I was simply the medium, to present the knowledge that I had been blessed to learn. I was to play my role, do my best, but the success of the program, just as how receptive my audiences would be to these teachings, was really not in my hands at all. There was a bigger Programmer orchestrating it all.

And as I sat in our car thinking that, and as I sat on my flight realizing that, my huge anxieties and stresses somehow became a little smaller. Suddenly my muscles weren’t so taut, my mood was no longer so bleak, and even my natural nervousness before a speech seemed to almost dissipate.

Because, after all, it wasn’t about me at all.

And maybe too, I realized, it is this understanding that is the real secret behind finding greater success in our lives or in our relationships.

Wishing you a wonderful 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.

Dear readers,

A few months ago, I was supposed to attend the out-of-town wedding of my dearest friend’s daughter. For months, I was eagerly looking forward to being at this wedding and sharing in my friend’s great happiness. And then, to my utter disappointment, the day before my flight was scheduled to depart, I caught a bad case of flu and, though heartbroken, reluctantly had to cancel my plans.

Who doesn’t love a wedding? Seeing the joyous, smiling faces . . . dancing to the happy frenzied beat of the orchestra . . . the subtle sweet scent of the bouquets of flowers . . . watching the bride exude beauty and innocence as the aura of promises and fresh new beginnings envelops the atmosphere.

Historically, June has always been the most popular months for weddings, and remains so, probably in large part due to its favorable weather. This year, the holiday of Shavuot falls this Wednesday and Thursday, on June 4th and 5th. Shavuot marks the greatest cosmic wedding to have ever taken place.

The wedding was held on the mountain, with the surrounding flowers and greenery serving as its lush décor, the thunder and lightning—the sights and sounds—as the awe-inspiring embellishments. The Torah was our Groom’s love letter to His people, and our future children served as the witnesses and guarantors that through thick and thin, we could and would continue to work on this marriage.

As the holiday of Shavuot approaches once again, we reenact our wedding day and relive the Sinai experience by creating for our Groom a very special place in our homes and hearts.

This Shavuot, as we read the Ten Commandments and renew our wedding vows, make sure to be there with your children and your whole family to recommit to this relationship with ever greater devotion.

Because, take it from me, it sure isn’t fun to miss out on a very special wedding.

Chana Weisberg,
TJW Editor

P.S.: On TJW this week, make sure to check out our great selection of Shavuot insights, our special Shavuot décor, and a beautiful personal story of a wedding that took place 25 years late!

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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