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Dear readers,

Yellow. What mood does it evoke in you? Sunshine. Brightness. Happiness.

How about black? Darkness. Mourning. Despair. Constriction.

Do you have a favorite painting or portrait? Examine it closely. What do you like about it? Is it colorful? Vibrant? Realistic? Does it make you happy?

Look carefully at its colors. While it may have many hues, no doubt it has a good amount of black. The black is evident in its outline, in its shadows, in the blending of the colors and in making the brighter parts really stand out. It’s not only that the black serves as a backdrop for the lighter tones, but that, ironically, black illuminates and enhances the effects of all the other colors.

Unfortunately, life is like that too. We have sunny days where we feel at peace with our inner selves and aligned with our mission in this world. And then we have cloudy, gloomy and dark days in which we are out of sync. These are the times in our lives that are painful, full of unused potential, when we feel disconnected from our spiritual selves and our Maker.

Yet, often it is precisely in the blackness and difficulties of our lives that our fortitude, faith and strength as human beings emerge. Those circumstances highlight the beautiful hidden vibrancy of our inner souls and bring out their luminosity.

Just as anxiety is meant to agitate us into action, darkness too must be used as a springboard for further growth, to acquire a deeper sensitivity. There is a chassidic saying that nothing is as whole as a broken heart—as long as our grief is constructive, creating turmoil that brings us to action.

We are currently in the darkest period of the Jewish calendar, culminating with the 9th of Av, which marks the destruction of the first and second Temples.

But Jewish history is anything but tragic. It is a tale of hope, faith and optimism, of strength, morality and light triumphing despite the harshest circumstances. Centuries of exile have wrenched the Jewish soul through the most miserable darkness, but through it all we have triumphed in still being here, still searching for goodness and G‑dliness, still holding on to our deepest convictions and still striving to reach our highest potentials.

Over the last many weeks we have witnessed collective tragedy. The kidnapping of our boys united us all in sorrow and grief, as did the rockets that rain down upon our cities. But the emerging messages of each of these horrors demonstrate once again the amazing fortitude of the Jewish soul.

Moshiach is born on the ninth of Av. Together let us all beseech our Maker that the living “portrait” of our people has been painted with enough blackness to bring out our inherent beauty. It is now time to experience the sunny brightness of the other, happier hues.

It is time for us to experience “G‑d will wipe away the tears from every eye.” Forever.

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,

How are you enjoying your journey?

You say you’re not currently on a journey?

Well, of course you are! We all are. Our lives are one long journey.

This week’s Torah portion, Massei, means “journeys,” and is about the Jewish people journeying forth from Egypt headed toward the Holy Land. It also metaphorically represents our own journeys forward, toward our own “holy land,” to accomplish our unique personal mission here in this world.

This week’s theme on TJW is all about our journeys through life.

Shifra Sharfstein discusses how to tackle life’s tough times. Joannie Tansky shares an amazing, heartwarming story which reminds us that throughout our journeys there is nothing that happens just “by accident.” Miriam Adahan helps us navigate our relationship journeys by providing tips on when it’s all right to wear a personal mask of deception. In our poetry section, we journey through life’s seasons, while our Thoughtstream column reminds us that while the summer may be more relaxed, there’s never a vacation from education. Our Parshah essay deals with the setbacks along our journey and how these are ultimately part of helping us to reach our destination.

So, what’s your journey like? Is it straightforward and clearcut, or do you feel like it is totally circular and roundabout? Do you ever feel like your journey is not really headed anywhere, or do you encounter roadblocks or road closures along your way?

Throughout all of our journeys, we meet people and experience places, events and life lessons. And every so often, as we travel forward in our life’s journeys, it may be worthwhile to ask ourselves if the direction we’re headed in is leading us towards our anticipated destination.

Happy journeying!

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

P.S. As our hearts and thoughts focus on our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land and our soldier’s fighting for our security, let us do our part and increase our prayers and mitzvot in merit of their welfare.

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,

My uncle, Rabbi Nachman Sudak z”l, recently passed away. He was my mother’s younger brother.

During shiva, my mother, Rebbetzin Batsheva Schochet, spoke about her brother’s courage, strength and faith. She spoke about their life in the former Soviet Union, about their devotion to lead a chassidic life despite the tremendous hardships. She spoke about a different world, a world that required such sacrifice to be a G‑d-fearing Jew.

But more than that, she spoke about a man who was full of love.

My uncle lived far away in England. He lived a full and accomplished life; the seeds of all he planted have sprouted into a forest of flourishing schools, shuls, outreach services and communal centers that continue to spiritually nourish Jews in England and throughout the world.

He was not a man of many words—and never empty ones—but he was a devoted chassid and, despite his hectic schedule, a man of heart.

After the birth of my sister, her third child, my mother became very ill. Uncle Nachman took the next plane to New York to the Rebbe. Seeing him, the Rebbe smiled, assuring him that there was no reason for concern; his sister would be fine. He immediately returned to England, and soon after, my mother fully recovered.

Many years ago, I had a stopover in London. I assumed that my uncle would arrange for someone to pick me up, but was completely astounded to see him personally waiting. As a teenager, I remember being so touched that someone whose time was so precious was calmly awaiting me like there was nothing else on his agenda!

Years later, I came to England to lecture. The smile on my uncle’s face was so beautiful, so proud that “Batsheva’s daughter” was here to impart chassidic teachings.

When I was perusing the many pictures of my uncle, one caught my attention. After a life-threatening ailment, while still terribly weak, my uncle returned to his office in what would be his last months of life. He was standing behind his desk, which was full of the many, many things that required his attention. My heart skipped a beat and I felt awed and humbled as I noticed that lying right there on his desk was my just-published book, Listening to the Whispers.

There are many things to say about my uncle, but to me that epitomizes him. He was a man of so many deeds, so much wisdom, so many accomplishments. He was a true chassid, a shliach who toiled day and night to bring the Rebbe’s message to the masses. But despite his many illustrious undertakings, he was a man who never lost his heart.

He would go to the ends of the earth to assist any member of his family.

And to him, his family extended to all the Jewish people.

And perhaps that is the most important message as we begin the Three Weeks period leading up to the Temples’ destruction. No matter how busy you are or how important your undertakings, never lose your heart.

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

P.S. Please continue to pray for the security of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.

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 reader,

It was a typical Sunday morning at the Weisberg home.

Shabbat had ended late the previous night. Though the Shabbat dishes had been loaded into the dishwasher, I had forgotten to start the washing cycle like I usually do before going to sleep. And so, on this Sunday morning, I momentarily glanced at the new bottle of dish detergent, noting that it looked different from our usual brand, before pressing the start button and rushing off to other waiting chores.

It was only when I was seated with my second steaming cup of coffee that I noticed the foamy bubbles forming . . . all over my kitchen floor! More bubbles were gathering by the moment, oozing out of the dishwasher door. A quick second glance at the soap confirmed that it was the culprit. I had poured lathering dish soap, and not detergent, into my dishwasher.

A frantic search on Google (“what to do if you pour dish soap instead of detergent?”) was followed by continuously draining the water, pouring vinegar and salt and lots more cold water onto the soap suds in the dishwasher, followed by more draining. Thankfully, the bubbles finally abated and the dishwasher was ready to resume normal operation.

When I finished mopping the floor, I realized just how grateful I should be that I hadn’t switched on the dishwasher the previous night, when I wouldn’t have been awake to notice the gathering suds, and the serious damage that would have been wreaked.

Nevertheless, I thought, there’s got to be more of a lesson from all this work . . . or, at the very least, an idea for an article!

And so, in my editor-in-search-of-an-article mode, I began considering the dishwashing process and how it can relate to us on different levels.

There are times in our lives, as parents, educators or friends, when we feel a need to “clean up” the “messy dishes,” or the actions of someone around us. During the cleaning process, however, we need to make sure we’re using the right brand of cleanser—appropriate words and tone of voice in our admonishments. We need to ensure that what we say is strong enough to help the other get the message to clean up his act, but not too strong as to create damage.

The wrong kind of cleanser—or even the right cleanser used in the wrong environment—can create far more trouble than we’ve ever anticipated. Squeaky-clean dishes are great, but not if you’ve created a mess all around you.

What a great lesson for this week’s Torah portion, Pinchas, when a selfless individual uses his decisive passion appropriately in admonishing and stopping the wrongful acts of others.

So, that was the best message that I came up with. Now’s your turn to share what other lessons we can learn from my Sunday morning mishap—including to check, and perhaps recheck, the cleanser before blithely pouring it.

Wishing you a squeaky-clean 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.
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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