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My head was spinning, reeling from hours of exerted concentration.

We were a few hours into yet another knotty computer training session, necessary for my work here at Chabad.org.

This time it was my editor (and boss) at our headquarters in Brooklyn who was helping me via remote connection, from my home in Toronto, to learn what I considered a hopelessly complicated program. Either he was born actually enjoying this technical stuff or he was breezing through it due to his years of experience. I, on the other hand, was desperately lost, fumbling and tripping my way through all this complex technical jargon.

Here was my opportunity to finally put an end to the torment.

"How are you doing, Chana?" he finally asked. "Ready for more, or have you had enough for now?"

My eyes were blurry from the screen, my forehead, crumpled in concentration and my legs, cramped from hours in the same posture. Here was my opportunity to finally put an end to the torment—at least until the next session.

"How about we stop here and call it a day?" I meekly implored.

"Sounds like you're a little overwhelmed." He was astute. "How about I just show you one more really simple thing—how to 'pull text' from each article?"

His request sounded more like a statement than a question. So rolling my eyes, groaning inwardly and intuitively knowing that the task didn't sound simple at all, I attempted to sound more agreeable than I felt as I stoically muttered, "Ok, sure."

We plowed ahead. Being as technically-challenged as I am, simple computer tasks never amount to being simple. This, too, was no exception and after following his very precise instructions, I was still rewarded with the large red words crossing my screen spelling ERROR.

My instructor checked to see where I had gone wrong.

"Oh, there you are," he announced confidently. "Check the body of the document. Do you see your mistake?"

There are some very important things in life that have exacting, sensitive formulas to bring out their desired results.

Though I checked and rechecked, it all looked fine--a mere hodge podge of letters and symbols.

"Look again. Do you see that extra symbol?" he asked. Sure enough, the deviant symbol was black-and-white evidence of my apparent crime. "This program is very sensitive," he explained. "Even an extra dot, an extra symbol or a missing one will cause an error and make it awry. It is very precise."

Honestly, I'm not really sure, nor do I think I ever will appreciate, why such a small deviation out of hundreds of letters can cause such a significant error. Nor do I think I will ever understand why it all needs to be so fixed. But then again, I'll be the first to admit that I'm no authority in these things and will just rely on the experts' directions.

But aside from a hefty headache, that training session did leave me with the realization that there are some very important things in life that are way beyond my comprehension but have exacting, sensitive formulas to bring out their desired results.


I'm often asked, just as often as I ask myself, why parts of Torah law need such precise formulas. Why should sixty seconds spell the difference between a prohibition of igniting the Shabbat candles rather than a positive deed bringing more light and holiness to our world? Why should a thread of linen in a wool garment make it unwearable? Or why can't a small sip of milk follow a hearty meaty meal? What difference does it really make?

But that computer session did show me the importance of all these meticulous instructions.

Because it is far more gratifying to create a nicely flowing document, than big red letters across your screen reading ERROR.

Now, if only I could remember all those detailed instructions…


Can you share a time in your life when something so small spelled the difference between being on track and causing a serious error?


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.
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Jampa West Hartford, CT February 25, 2008

A sip of calm Coffee. I remember how surprised I was by the powerful effect of exchanging coffee for green tea, and exchanging treats with processed sugar for healthier ones. (Which meant, also, that the new treats did not have artificial color, flavors or other additives.) Wow! Good-bye, wired; hello, calm. Small things, nothing earth shattering, but life-strengthening. It made me wonder how many people are needlesly suffering from insomnia or feeling edgy, or what have you, simply because their systems are getting the wrong fuel. When you're calmer, you make fewer mistakes, and the mistakes you do make don't loom so large. The world is made up of details, exquisite, amazing details...thank G-d for them alll. And thanks to Ms. Weisberg for her wonderful colum - don't give up, it sounds like you're doing great!!! Reply

Deborah Nelson Commerce City, Colorado/US February 25, 2008

I remember when When I just started to do the computer it was very difficult. Of course then I worked in DOS where you must put in the exact name of your program to run it. I just wanted to throw the thing away. But I couldn't after all that program I bought was to help my child who was just head injured. I didn't know how much that box was going to help me in the future. Some programs helped but what helped me the most was Word. There I could make question sheets for him to answer after studying. It was rough going but that child today is fine and in college. This is why I love the computer.
People here and there helped me to reset the computer when it was going bad. I have learned to install a modem and a monitor when they break. I am no where near a professional to fixing the things but I still love them. Reply

ALLEN L NEUHAUSER Phoenix, AZ February 25, 2008

One Letter Off details, details, details.
Chana, I congratulate you for your perseverance to stick with your instructor in this valuable lesson.
I try and help many people in many areas. Sometimes I am asked "why does something need to be done "exactly" as I say"?
I explain that when there are more than one way, I will tell you those ways.
When there needs to be exactness in following a procedure, I tell you so, and if you want the correct outcome, to follow the instructions very exactly. Reply

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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