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Why a Seed Grows in Darkness

Why a Seed Grows in Darkness


Dear Readers,

Where do you go when you want to get in touch with yourself? When life seems to be spinning out of control, do you escape to a special place, perhaps a beautiful retreat alone?

What do you do when you want to feel alive with every fiber and every pore of your being pulsating? Do you go for a run, paint, dance, sing or do something that pushes you to your limits?

When you’re feeling distraught, what do you do to calm yourself? Do you try a new experience or do you revert to what is familiar to you?

One of the oldest debates in psychology is the nature versus nurture debate. Are a person’s actions predisposed by DNA or do life experiences create a lasting influence on one’s behavior and decisions in life? Are we born this way, or have we become this way due to our environment?

And does the debate perhaps go deeper? Are we merely products of our genes and our environment, or is there a higher self that we can strive to be that’s totally independent of both our natural instincts and background?

In this week’s Torah portion, Abraham is told to leave everything that is familiar to him in order to find a deeper part of himself.

“Go you from your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.” (Gen. 12:1)

The Chassidic masters explain: Eretz, the Hebrew word for land, is etymologically related to the word ratzon—will and desire; so your land also translates as your natural desires. Your birthplace, moladtecha, is a reference to the influence of home and society. And beitavicha, your father’s house, refers to man as a mature and rational being, forging his mind-set, character and behavior with the transcendent objectivity of the intellect.

Just as a seed develops into a thriving plant after it first decomposes in the ground, sometimes we need to leave everything familiar to us—our natural environment, our automatic responses, our usual inclinations, even our rational self—in order to find greater growth. Away from the lights and observations of others (and free of our own self-imposed predilections), we experience the unbounded power of a new self.

Leaving behind the old “I” of everything I know and love can be really scary. The seed buried deep down in the earth seemingly decomposes into nothingness. But free from these limiting expectations, like the seed, we can also produce our greatest yield.

So, this week, let’s think about how we can free ourselves from the limits of both nature and nurture to discover our greatest selves. What can we do in one area of our lives that would free us from external and internal expectations to reach unknown terrain? Let’s start this journey by sharing ideas in the comments below.

Wishing you a week of unbounded potential!

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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Orli Ohio October 28, 2017

For me, I have to separate myself from every distraction and be by myself and H-Shem; what i ussually do and say is H-Shem we need to talk, I get to that special place within me and pour out my heart, tell him everything....He cleanses me and gives me peace; I get up renew, refresh, and with his joy to continue in this wonderful journey that He has prepared for me. H-Shem loves us sooooooo much that he wants us to succeed and be happy with him, our King....There is no one like our Majesty, B''H.... Reply

Paula Florida October 27, 2017

Rabbi Abraham Twerski stated in one of his writings, that “a seed does not grow until it first disintegrates in the soil. There is always hope in life and growth, even when we may feel we are disintegrating.”
This has helped me in my darkest times to trust Hashem that life can continue and I can flourish. Thank you Chana for reminding me of this wisdom. Reply

daniel harvey wells macon , ga January 13, 2017

strive Wow this really gives me something positive to think about! Reply

MLK Brockton Ma November 24, 2016

Why a seed grows in darkness Chana your article is true in many aspects . If a Temple is open I would go there for many reasons . One reason it is a good place to sit and think clearly and being to sort things out if possible . Also I believe the Bible is a source of help many answers can be found there. People do need people that is true but everyone has their problems to deal with . Reply

Anonymous Gold Coast November 14, 2016

one thing I could do... I can stop setting deadlines in my spiritual growth.
Thank you, Chana, your writing is always inspiring and appreciated. Reply

Anonymous Florida November 12, 2016

Where is the journey? Where is the Jewish journey? It seems stuck in a tradition. Either follow or don't. Where is the journey? To where? In which direction? Reply

Nicholas Liverpool UK November 12, 2016

Yeiding a harvest The seeds are already in us through the dna of our souls that was given by God. These seeds are our real life, a life disconnected from the fall in the garden. The only way to engage that real life is for the outer husk to fall away. Just like the mighty oak trees... The life of that tree (the life not the material substances) was always in the acorn. There was never anymore life needed or gained it was all in the seeds. Those seeds are in you. The only way to allow that life to grow is to have a relationship with God free from sin and allow God through the Holy spirit to remove the husk so the life can be released and cause something new and amazing to grow.

This is the beauty of salvation. It brings about that prerequisite of right standing with God. Reply

Igor Ganapolsky Fort Lee November 11, 2016

Thank you for this insightful information. I appreciated the analogy of Abraham being commanded by G-d to leave - to a seed that decomposes and grows. Reply

Ligia Maria Brasília November 11, 2016

Always G-d! We can't do it alone by ourselves. Only G-d knows ours and others timing. There must be the opportunity to be in the right place at the right moment and to have the right word for the right person. This "moment" and the "ones chosen" belongs to G-d. Sometimes are needed twelve years for so, or more than that, according to His project for us. Reply

jim dallas November 11, 2016

marching orders! over a several week period of situational awareness i prepared, or by His help i did, for my release after a year of hospital care...problem was i had no home or life to go to, thank HaShem i was prepared!
i called some special people whom knew me as an artist/teacher with thier children who were now grown. they listened as i explained my predicament, then insisted i come immediately and plan to stay awhile.
long story short, i have been here nearly 4 months and we fulfil each others needs financially so i am expecting to stay longer, i have inherited a family with His help, lots of new roles for me to learn and engage.
one is never too old or done!
thanks for your time and of course your experience! Reply

Anonymous Rochester N Y November 10, 2016

Beautiful timing . Perfect for my life right now . Perfect Reply

Nolan U.K. November 10, 2016

A new self or a development of the self? Reply

nina ambrose lockridge west australia November 10, 2016

Thank you Chana Thank you Chana.Spot on. Reply

jim dallas November 9, 2016

chana, sefira, what masterpieces you create! thanks for this above and beyond article, i will reread it at my leisure. Reply

Rabbah Shulamit Australia November 9, 2016

Like sunrise on a new day Thank you - I strive to learn a bit each morning and unexpectedly was drawn to your beautiful and inspiring teaching. My family is between homes in the midst of a move and it sometimes feels unsettling- but your words help me re-frame and give more strength for our journey. Thank you! Reply

Jaclyn Jerusalem November 9, 2016

Recently I moved from living with my son,his family.Here in Jerusalem for the last 5 years into a, assisted living facility.I now have my own place and more independent it's great. Reply

Michelle England UK November 9, 2016

more time alone and prayer hello all and thank you Chana. I have found myself facing a fear I never saw myself coming face to face with but instead of hiding it I'm telling a few select people and through the Grace of G-d trusting all in prayer and asking for help.and today as I drove home I have found with more alone time every now and then I realise something new and different about my situation and more and more that G-d is answering my prayers. and when I've recognised in my head and turned away an old habbit I've given praise and thanks that it turned up but told it too I'm trusting in G-d and that, has felt in itself like a kind of freedom. thanks for giving me the space to share this for that helps too. G-d bless all Reply

Anonymous Israel November 8, 2016

beyond what comes natural when you see a caterpillar laboriously making its way along a leaf stem, would you ever think that in a few weeks it will flutter effortlessly from blossom to blossom? yet it does develop into a butterfly because that's what it's supposed to be! so we too, can & must constantly evolve.
this week I want to start a new project that involves being active & communicating (2 things that go against my nature!). it's called family cohesiveness & involves sending out a calendar with all the birth & other important dates to my grown-up kids. And in addition to my other to-do-lists I'll hang up a weekly plan for calling friends & family members on a regular basis. Not easy for me but worth it! Reply

the Oracle Indio November 8, 2016

Pre-Read Time for updating your reading.

Nature = genetics.
Nurture = Epigenetics Reply

Hadassah November 8, 2016

Thank you, Chana Weisburg Shalom, Chana. Thank you for your profound message. I am inspired and encouraged this morning. How can I reach my unbounded potential? How can I have the faith of Abraham, wherein he left everything behind in order to obey G-d? Reply

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