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Are You a Victim of Your Circumstances?

Are You a Victim of Your Circumstances?


I love flowers, especially roses. So, soon after we moved into our new home, we planted a rosebush in our front garden. The bush has since grown and now produces beautiful, fragrant red roses every season.

Just be careful if you want to pick them, though! Their thorns, or technically “prickles,” can be nasty. Scientists provide different reasons for why roses need those prickles.

Some speculate that the thorns on roses protect them from being eaten by animals attracted to the perfumed smell in the oils of the petals. Also, the typically sickle-shaped, hook-like prickles aid the rose in hanging onto other vegetation as the rose bush grows. Some species of roses, especially ones that grow on coastal sand dunes, have densely packed straight prickles. These trap wind-blown sand and protect the bush’s roots by reducing erosion.

Whatever the reason, the prickles clearly help the rose bush flourish.

In this week’s Torah portion, we are introduced to our matriarch, Rebecca. Our sages applied to her the verse: “As a rose among the thorns, so is my beloved among the daughters” (Song of Songs 2:2). Rebecca is considered to be the proverbial “rose among thorns,” growing up in a corrupt home and conniving society.

As the rose petals rub against its thorns, the roses emit their pleasant fragrance. Similarly, Rebecca’s thorny background enabled her to become her greatest self.

From a tender age, Rebecca witnessed lying, deceit and duplicity. Yet instead of succumbing to evil and allowing it to become a part of her psyche, it sensitized her to the bankruptcy of a G‑dless way of life.

All too often nowadays, we justify every failing we have by laying the blame on our circumstances. Perhaps we were born into a dysfunctional family that robbed us of warmth and positive emotions; perhaps our spouse is cold or indifferent, and doesn’t provide the psychological support we need and deserve; perhaps our education doesn’t meet today’s standards and career goals, and prevents us from achieving success. While all this may be true, from Rebecca we learn how to thrive despite adversity by utilizing shortcomings to our advantage.

Rebecca didn’t only overcome the negativity of her background; she used its negativity, its thorns and prickles, to develop a keen perception and awareness of evil. This later enabled her to determine the true character of her sons and to make a monumental decision that would forge the path of history when it came time for Isaac to bless them.

Rebeccas’s life story teaches us that sometimes it’s the prickles, thorns and shakeups life so disturbingly throws at us that can bring out the best in each of us.

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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Esther Herat St John's, Newfoundland November 9, 2017

I never understood why Rivka (Rebecca) preferred one son over the other. It always perplexed me. As a child i always thought she was a cruel mother but this article has helped me understand why Rivka did what she did. Thank you. I will never tire of saying that my learning curve of the Torah has seen an upward curve with Chabad. Thank you again and again. Reply

Sharlon Salisbury, NC November 26, 2016

Thank you Ms Weisberg. I am enjoying your educational yet with sincerity in teaching me of your wisdom. I've been reading all of your articles I receive in Chabad email.
Although, I may not ( be or not be?) be physically Jewish, spiritual I'am. Reply

Anonymous NY November 25, 2016

BH, what a fantastic drosha.... so happy I chose to read that instead of check the soccer news!!!! Reply

Anonymous November 24, 2016

Blessings!..and thank you! Reply

Anonymous USA November 23, 2016

Bringing out the best Now I understand that all the horrors of my life have "brought out the best in me." Maybe next life I'll request that my life experiences only "bring out something less than my best".
I'm hopeful that my thoughts/feelings are not shared by many fellow travelers. Reply

Anonymous Johannesburg November 23, 2016

What you write about Rebecca is very true Reply

Anonymous November 23, 2016

Excellent article and very well written! Thanks for posting! Reply

Anonymous November 23, 2016

Thank you for writing this, this was just what I needed to read, as I felt I could relate to many things you touched upon here. It gives me further strength to read this, but for me, I feel that, not only do I need to put in my own efforts to make clear choices in averting 'evil' or 'dysfunction' etc., I need to beg and cry out to Hashem that He grant me the gifts, the kochot, that I need, in order to truly overcome my 'adversaries' and 'thorns' in life. Reply

Anonymous November 22, 2016

I've never had the story of Rebbeca explained to me this way. It enabled me to look at life from a different and more positive perspective. Thank you . Reply

jim dallas November 21, 2016

well, a deep subject! and indeed you worked a wonder on this parshah, all we saw was the tip of the iceberg and then you brought forth the vision of completion, very well done! Reply

Anonymous CONNECTICUT November 21, 2016

THANK YOU I needed to see this today! Reply

JDV November 21, 2016

Rebecca So true! Reply

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