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How a Tiny Splinter on My Finger Changed My Perspective

How a Tiny Splinter on My Finger Changed My Perspective

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A tiny sliver of wood, so small it was hardly discernable. That’s all it was. But as my skin pressed against some rough surface, that tiny millimeter of wood broke off and lodged itself in my forefinger.

I would never have detected this invasion. But, a few days after it made its new abode in the tip of my finger, redness and irritation developed. Upon close inspection, it dawned on me that there was a splinter in my skin that needed to be removed post-haste. The longer I would wait, the more infected my finger—and perhaps even my entire arm and body would eventually become. That’s what happens when an alien, unwanted entity penetrate into our bodies; something small and innocuous spreads and develops into something far more harmful.

In the days between Passover to Shavuot we have begun a new count-down. For seven complete weeks, we count the Omer, until we finally reach the summit on Shavuot.

This counting is meant to also be a spiritual accounting, as we work to refine ourselves. The Kabbalists explain that each of these 7 weeks, we are meant to be working on another of the seven sefirot, the traits and drives of the human psyche. So, for example, the first week, we develop our trait of chessed, love. Every day of this week we refine that drive, as it is complimented and tempered by the other sefirot, (for example: love tempered by discipline, empathetic love, enduring love, humility in love, bonding love, etc.) for a total of seven times seven days and traits.

After we have undergone this methodical, 49-step process of self-refinement, we are ready to receive the Torah on the holiday of Shavuot.

But doesn’t it seem like Judaism demands an awful lot of introspection and self-reflection? All the more so considering that this all follows the strict regimen of Passover; we’ve just meticulously cleansed our homes and ourselves from the ego represented by leaven. I mean, give me a break, more work now to rectify every particular soul trait?

But when I think of my splinter I realize just how much harm a foreign trait or value can cause. A character trait gone bad, or an alien value that has seeped into our psyche may start by taking over just the forefinger, but its effect quickly spreads to infect the entire body.

Luckily, without too much effort I noticed the splinter in time and was able to remove it. If only negative or selfish character traits could be fixed as easily.

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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Anonymous Monroe Twp, NJ May 29, 2016

I believe that negative or selfish character traits can be fixed as easily as removing a splinter, if one really wants to do so.
First you have to recognize that you are what you are, and that you don't like that person.Then you have to convince yourself that you want to change that person into the person you want to be.
Once you admit your shortcomings, and establish a plan to eradicate them, you will become a productive, acceptable member of society, and not the rotten apple in the barrel! Reply

Hadasah Love Miami, FL May 29, 2016

I always read your posts and watch your teachings on jewish.tv, i love the way you speak, simply inspiring and moving...
Thank you so much. xx
Hadasah Reply

Anonymous Mesa, AZ May 15, 2016

The Splinter Last year Chana, my dear sister, I wrote my comment on this blog. This past week, after been terribly sick, and still suffering from this illness, I keep on strugling with the attacks of satan, I prayed to Hashem, blessed is He, for his compassion to help me fight this evil, and He heard my prayer. Yes, a tiny splinter could ruin our whole mind and spirit. Hashem is great, and merciful. Blessed is He! Reply

Anonymous May 14, 2016

Excellent analogy and very well said! Thanks for posting! Reply

Anonymous USA April 16, 2015

How a Tiny Splinter My dear Chana, I have always admired you. I take this message as a personal cleansing, the whole teaching of Torah, in my view, is to turn ourselves into a vessel for the All Mighty G-d, blessed be He. It is very difficult sometimes... But He gives us the strengthas we ask for His precious compassion. I have been struggling for the past seven years here in Mesa, AZ. After finding what my roots were. Turning to my ancestors faith have been a challenge, but I am in the road to improvement. The attacks of the enemy of my soul are powerful, but Hashem, blessed be He, is my strength, my fortress, and chield. My hope is in His proimise. I stand strong. Thank you for your teachings, my dear sister. Reply

Mrs. Chana Weisberg via mychabad.org April 15, 2015

Thank you all for taking the time to share your comments! I'm so glad you enjoyed the analogy.

Re the smiles in our email and site, I'd love to hear what other readers think too. Reply

ruth weijel Petach Tikva April 15, 2015

Shalom, Chana,

Your "splinter in your finger" was a very good eye-opener for me!
Thanks , I liked it.

Hope I can/will go on the way you showed!

Take care for other splinters and be well! Reply

Anonymous NY, NY April 14, 2015

"Smile" isn't funny! I have to register a complaint about the "Smile" jokes that appear at the bottom of this column. So far, all I've seen are jokes making fun of women, particularly women's shopping habits. Each woman is a soul unto herself; we don't all do things alike. To suggest that is disgustingly condescending. Most of the women I know are NOT shopaholics. The author of those pieces suggest that we shop for what we want. Personally, I'm finding it hard to shop for what I need in this economy! Please stop assuming that we are Stepford wives to live to shop! Reply

Jules Scher Monroe Twp, NJ April 14, 2015

If you are true to yourself, and allow yourself to focus on your faults, and want to rid yourself of those faults, it is no big deal to do so.
I had a fault, and rid myself of it by being aware of it, and suppressing that negatve feeling whenever it arose. I once felt like striking back at someone who was belittling me, but instead cotrolled my emotions and showed pity for his hostile personality. It was not constructive criticism that he was offering me.
I do believe that if you can't say anything good, then say nothing. Reply

Thalia April 14, 2015

Chana, thank you for the reminder that the inner man must be as clean as the interior. What proceeds out of the mouth of a man not what goes into it makes you truly clean before G-d. Reply

Jodi Suson IL April 13, 2015

This is a great analogy, thank you for sharing. Reply

Katie Cheyenne, WY April 13, 2015

Very well said, received and understood my Sister. Thank you! Reply