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Dear Reader,

Our daily prayers have just gotten a little bit longer.

From the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul until Hoshana Rabbah on the holiday of Sukkot, we’ve begun reciting an extra Psalm at the end of our prayers.

This Psalm (Chapter 27) begins with the words “G‑d is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The L-d is the strength of my life, whom shall I dread? . . . For He will hide me in His tabernacle on a day of adversity . . . ”

This prayer is appropriate for this time of year since it hints to the upcoming holidays. “Light” refers to Rosh Hashanah, which like light wakes us from our slumber to remind us to return to G‑d. “Salvation” refers to the holy day of Yom Kippur, when we take leave of all our wrongs from the past year through forgiveness and atonement. And “tabernacle” (sukkah in Hebrew) refers to the holiday of Sukkot.

In this Psalm, King David eloquently begs G‑d to save him from his many enemies. As his adversaries pursue him, he enumerates three stages of deliverance.

  1. G‑d illuminates his path so he can flee.
  2. G‑d protects him and removes the danger.
  3. G‑d brings him to a place of refuge.

Whether we find ourselves in the throes of a terrible illness, a financial crisis or a severe emotional problem, these are the three stages of deliverance we all seek.

Worry, sadness and despair associated with a challenge can be overwhelming. Darkness haunts and immobilizes us, blocking our path so we cannot see. The first step to recovery is finding a ray of light or hope to illuminate the enveloping darkness.

Next we need a path—a real solution for our problem so that the severity of the danger or difficulty is eased.

And finally, even after a solution is in place, we need to learn how to find serenity—a calm state of mind, a place of refuge from which to handle the inevitable struggles.

As the year draws to a close and a new one full of promise peeks around the corner, we ask G‑d to help us through our personal trials. The concluding words of the prayer are the foundation for improving our mindset. “Hope in the L‑rd, be strong and let your heart be valiant, hope in the L‑rd.”

May the coming year be a year of blessing for us all, where we find salvation from our challenges, as well as a year of deliverance and redemption for our nation and our entire world.

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,

Ever notice how time passes by so quickly? Seasons turn ever so swiftly; days meld into weeks; weeks merge into months. But every so often, something happens that makes us stop, think and re-evaluate. Are we heading in the right direction? Are we accomplishing the goals that we set out for ourselves? What positive change can and should we introduce into our lives?

This week, we greet the new month of Elul. This is the month immediately prior to the New Year, which connects the past year with the coming year, and demands stocktaking and introspection. It is also the month that has the acronym, Ani Ledodi Vedodi Li—“I am to My beloved and My beloved is to me.” We approach G‑d with a desire to return and connect, and G‑d reciprocates with Divine expressions of mercy and forgiveness.

G‑d is closest to us; He beckons us and asks us to come close to Him. He asks us to make Him a real and active part in our lives.

There is no better time than now to introduce positive change into our lives—to reflect on all our negative addictions, all those unhealthy choices that we automatically and so easily steer to mindlessly. Now is the time to take a closer look at our schedules and evaluate how we can saturate our days with more positive, nurturing spirituality.

Change can be daunting. But real change begins not with major upheaval, but with incremental acts. Just a small change of direction can lead to a whole new world of opportunity.

Change is always possible. But this month, we have the added advantage of G‑d reaching out to us and extending a hand to help.

Let’s grab it.

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,

I was walking in a crime-ridden neighborhood of Brooklyn, and there was a shabby-looking man with an outstretched arm, asking for charity. I had some cash in my purse, but I didn’t want to draw attention to it. I quickened my pace, looked straight ahead and pretended not to see.

It was the end of a hard and aggravating day. Nothing had gone the way I had planned or wanted. My husband walked into our home, ready to share something that had happened that excited him. I chose not to see his eagerness. I chose not to share in his exuberance, but to remain in my own cloud-filled, dark corner of reality.

I had had a busy and exhausting week when I met a woman who hinted that she wanted to be invited for a Shabbat meal. Did she have to choose this week—the Shabbat that we had planned to make a simple, easy one, without guests? I closed my eyes to her need and closed my ears to her hints.

So many times in life, we choose not to see. We choose to remain blind to another’s wants, needs or pain, preferring to remain oblivious and ignore it.

This week’s Torah portion begins with the words: See, I give you today a blessing and a curse (Deuteronomy 11:26)

Maimonides in Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance (5:1-3), states that freedom of choice has been granted to every man. If he desires to turn towards a good path, the ability to do so is in his hands . . .

He further writes, “This concept is a fundamental principle and a pillar of the Torah and its commandments. As it is written [Deuteronomy 30:15]: ‘See, I have set before you life [and good, and death and evil]’ . . . For if there were to exist something in the very essence of a person’s nature which would compel him toward a specific path, a specific conviction, a specific character trait or a specific deed . . . how could G‑d command us through the prophets, ‘Do this’ and ‘do not do this’ . . . ?”

G‑d is asking us to open our eyes. See the needs of those around you. See the beauty in giving. See the splendor in opening yourself up to do just a bit more than you thought you could.

Wishing us all a week of seeing!

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,

I met an elderly, loving couple who had been married for many, many years. I wondered: What kept their relationship fresh? What sustained their warmth and tenderness over time?

Did they gift each other special, luxurious items on birthdays, anniversaries or commemorative events? Did they have grand gestures of self-sacrifice that kept them so close?

Not at all. It was the constant, ordinary gestures that permeated every aspect of their relationship. It was the small acts of kindness throughout their day. Their phone calls to say, “I’m thinking of you.” Offers to bring each other a hot cup of coffee or a fuzzy pair of slippers, or to wash the dishes left in the sink. The notes on the fridge to remind the other of something that was important for them.

This week’s Torah portion is called Eikev, and it begins with the verse: “It will be because [eikev] you will heed these ordinances and keep them, that G‑d will keep for you the covenant and the kindness that He swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and multiply you . . . ”(Deuteronomy 7:12–13)

In this verse, G‑d is teaching us how we can keep our relationship with Him alive and thriving throughout our long and difficult exile. Several commentaries explain the interesting usage of the word eikev, which literally means “because” but also means a “heel.”

Rashi comments:Eikev, the Hebrew word for “because,” literally means “heel.” If you will heed the minor commandments which one [usually] tramples with his heels [i.e., which a person treats as being of minor importance].”

The Rebbe elaborates: “Our commitment to Torah should permeate us entirely, even our heel—the lowest and the least sensitive part of the person. In other words, our relationship with G‑d should not be confined to the holy days of the year or to certain “holy” hours we devote to prayer and study, but should also embrace our everyday activities.”

Relationships thrive through gestures of love and affection repeated in regular interactions. These small things—like spending time together, complimenting each other or performing thoughtful acts—ensure that each individual understands how much he or she is cared for.

So how do you think a successful relationship with G‑d would look? What would a person do throughout their day if he or she is devoted to making G‑d happy? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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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