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Dear reader,

Ever watch children? They have an inner happiness, a joie de vivre. They are comfortable to just be who they are, uninhibited by others’ judgments, without any self-consciousness.

As children mature, though, they begin comparing themselves to others, gnawing away at their self-confidence. They now need outside validation.

Validation means acknowledging our inherent goodness and being able to pinpoint what makes us special as an individual. The more that we are able to validate ourselves, the less we need others to do it for us. When we appreciate our essential beauty and uniqueness, we are happy with ourselves and don’t need the opinions of others.

In Ethics of our Fathers it says, “Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot.” Someone can be materially wealthy, but if he’s always looking over his shoulder at how much more his neighbor has, he will never find happiness.

This also refers to spiritual aspirations. Though we strive to improve and learn from good qualities, we do not grow from being envious of others’ spiritual aptitudes. Growth comes from working with and stretching our own.

This brings me to the holiday of Sukkot, which is the most joyous of all holidays and is even termed “the season of happiness.”

One of the strongest themes recurring throughout this holiday is how every single person, from the simplest to the most talented, has an important contribution.

We see this theme in the Four Species, which resemble four categories of people—from the willow, the simplest individual, to the highly celebrated etrog. Each of the four species is held together, needed and integral.

On Sukkot we “live” in a sukkah, a temporary dwelling. Everyone, rich and poor, leaves behind their material acquisitions and sits and eats in the sukkah equally—irrespective of our social status, our bank statements or our individual capabilities.

Our joy reaches a climax on Simchat Torah when we dance with the Torah. We dance with our feet, not our heads, without any distinction in intelligence, level of observance or talents. The circles have no end or beginning, no hierarchy or levels, signifying the equal importance of every member.

Perhaps that is why Sukkot is called “the season of our happiness.” The greatest happiness comes from knowing and internalizing that we each have our own worth, our unique essential role, and our own special qualities and capabilities. Throughout the holiday of Sukkot, we send this message to each and every member of our nation: You have a divine soul, and you are a valuable and necessary component, integral to our wholeness.

Because validation is something that we all need.

Wishing you a most joyous holiday!

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW

P.S.: What makes you feel validated as an individual?

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,

Stand in front of a full length mirror and take a good look at yourself. You may notice the style or color of your clothes, the five pounds you recently gained or lost, that you’re having a particularly good or bad hair day, or the wrinkles that are slowly forming around your eyes.

But none of that of course is the real you.

We all have layers that cover up the “real me.” There’s the image that we want to present to the world, the talents and traits we want others to recognize. And then there’s even the image that we want to project to ourselves, those layers that hide and distract from our core inner selves.

But there is one day of the year that can peel through these layers to discover our core essence. That day is Yom Kippur.

The Hebrew word for HaSatan, the Satan, has a numerical equivalent of 364. In Jewish theology, Satan isn’t some imaginary devious devil, but refers rather to the many forces and voices that distract us, tempt us and alienate us from listening to our inner selves. The Satan has power over us for 364 days of the year. But on the 365th day, on the holy day of Yom Kippur, we can reach a level of self-awareness and oneness. On this day, outer temptations, diversions, dichotomies, fragmentations, enticements--and whatever blocks our inner voice from being heard--do not have such a hold. These layers are stripped away as we finally come face to face with the potent power of our soul.

It may surface only for a moment, but in that moment, we regain our perspective and remember who we are.

As the day progresses, we approach the last prayer of the day, the Neilah, right at the close of Yom Kippur. As our stomachs grumble from being ignored all day--just as we’ve ignored all those other layers of distractions--we reach a crescendo of awareness.

Neilah means closing. On a simple level it is the time of day when Yom Kippur is about to end and the gates of heavens are about to “close”. But Chassidic teachings explain that at this moment of holiness, we are “closed in”, together with our Creator. G‑d is not closing the doors on us, but rather enclosing us in His arms and closing out the layers of distraction that we need to deal with in our day to day living. We are given the suffusion of energy to go back to that reality while seeing ourselves just a drop clearer--as a reflection of G‑d.

Wishing you all a very meaningful and easy fast!

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,

The players sit around the table; the game of Monopoly has begun.

They each take a turn rolling the dice and advancing clockwise around the board. Passing G0, they collect money, funds that will help pay a bill or buy a new property.

One player lands on “Income Tax”, she needs to pay a flat fee or 10% of her total worth; it’s a hard hit. Another, lands on “Free Parking”, a free space where you neither gain nor lose anything. The players progress around the board buying and trading, developing their properties with houses or hotels and collecting rent from opponents.

Uh oh, the player who was winning has landed on “Go to Jail”. The one who has lost his fortune gets a break when he lands on “Chance”. The dice rolls on, creating winners and losers.

The players keep progressing, around and around the board. Forty spaces, twenty-eight properties in total.

Who will win? Who will lose? Who will pay steep penalties? Who will face bankruptcy? Who will monopolize the economy?

Life can sometimes feel like the roll of the Monopoly dice. One person loses his business and his entire life’s savings, just as another lands a lucrative deal. Circumstances change, new turbulences come our way. Just as our troubles are tormenting and drowning us, a turn of good fortune provides a whiff of hope.

But unlike the game of Monopoly, nothing in our lives happens by chance or by the roll of a dice. G‑d is watching us and determining each and every twist of fate.

The High Holidays are now around the corner. The focus of Rosh Hashanah is that we ask G‑d to be our King, realizing that His kingship is the epitome of mercy, goodness and justice. All that will happen in the coming year is now determined.

We say in the High Holiday prayers:

On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed - how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire…who by famine and who by thirst, who by upheaval and who by plague...

Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted.

But Repentance, Prayer, and Charity annul the severe Decree." (Unetanneh Tokef Prayer)

A new year is right around the corner. Promise and hope is in the air.

May we all be written and inscribed for a sweet, happy and good year, full of the blessings that we so desire!

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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