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What Happens When You Transform Your Enemy

What Happens When You Transform Your Enemy


Dear Readers,

As a parent, it’s your greatest moment of triumph.

You’ve momentarily left the playroom. Your son begins to taunt his older sister. You’re about to rush in as referee to prevent the impending battle, when you pleasantly discover that your daughter hasn’t taken the bait. Instead of fighting back, retorting angrily or using her fists, she chooses a different response. She calmly explains to her brother—mimicking the soothing voice you try so hard to use—that she loves him too much to fight, and then distracts him with another activity.

Weeks, months and years of effective parenting have paid off! Your child has internalized your values.

This Shabbat before Pesach is called Shabbat Hagadol, the “Great Shabbat.”

After eight decades of being victim to the Egyptians’ merciless cruelty, on the 10th of Nissan, on Shabbat, the Israelites prepare a paschal lamb. They explain to the Egyptians that G‑d instructed them to offer a sacrifice on the 14th of Nissan—the night of their redemption, and the night that G‑d would slay all the Egyptian firstborn.

Hearing this, the Egyptian firstborn plead with Pharaoh to liberate the Jews. When Pharaoh refuses, they rise up in an armed revolt. Many Egyptians died in battle.

This revolt was titled a “great miracle,” and it is commemorated every year on the Shabbat before Passover. These Egyptian firstborn finally understood the folly of their evil and sided with Moses, actively attacking their own government.

Chassidic thought explains that the greatest victory is not in fighting evil, but rather transforming it into good.

When the enemy becomes a friend and defender . . . When a negative inclination works energetically for good . . . When darkness is changed into light . . . When destruction becomes the impetus for building . . . And, when a powerful group of firstborn sons finally stands up against the ills of their society by defending those whom they had so wrongly mistreated.

Interestingly, the 10th of Nissan also marks the date of Miriam’s yahrtzeit, years later, after the Exodus. From a young age, Miriam fearlessly stood up against King Pharaoh when he instructed her to kill all the Jewish male newborns. Despite the hardships, despite the pain, one woman fanned the flame of faith of all the Jewish women of her generation, and succeeded in transforming their perspective with her courage and kindness.

This Shabbat is also called the “great” Shabbat because the haftorah speaks of the coming of Moshiach, referring to this day as the yom Hashem hagadol v’hanora, the “great” and awesome day of the L‑rd (Malachi 3:23).

This great and utopian era will not be a time of destruction, but of transformation; it will not be about commanding, but about communicating. It will not be about fighting, but about educating and changing the mindset of our foes, just as the perspective of the firstborns was positively altered.

May this week’s great Shabbat finally usher in this great and awesome time period!

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.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Shirley April 15, 2016

Great article. And very heartfelt. Yes i do believe we are entering into a Great Era. But it may not be a utopia ... for if we have a utopia that implies that a dystopia is possible. Therefor, should we find a 'middle way'? I heard Moses found a middle way'; a new way of weights and measures, non-duality in a world when the Glory of what was promised to Abraham come forth. And soon. Shabbos Hagadol. Reply

Anonymous Tzfat, Israel April 15, 2016

transforming my enemy to the impetus for building My Dear SoulSister Chana,

Thank you so very much for this articulated insight. My life has been filled with one heavy challenge after another B"H. Though I bless Hashem that He gave me the insight that these challenges are only the catalyst for me to grow, and indeed some truly wonderful life-changing positive thought patterns resulted in some amazingly empowering actions; I nevertheless find it very hard to internally accept, validate, and acknowledge my part of the successes. This blockage is especially directed in connection with my creative artistic expression through writing, stand-up monologues, organizational activities, music, and my "Ladder 2 Skinny" weightloss coaching. My main sticking point is internalizing emotionally what my mind tells me.... being stuck in the chochma and bina and really not getting to the daas!

Because you are a noted contributor to Chabad.Org and a noted writer, I believe what you say. This helps me to validate & internalize my insights. Reply

Sarah K. Europe April 14, 2016

inspiring Very inspiring ! Here and now, not in another world in the future. Makes you think of Moschiah as if he is now infront of us. (He is probably). Best regards Reply

Howard Wright April 14, 2016

What happens when you transform your emenies Thank you and very well stated. Reply

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