Dear Readers,

We’ll be moving to a new home soon and, as a result, I’ve been doing research on paint colors. I have lots (and I mean, lots!) of samples to help me choose just the right hues. While I wasn’t surprised that muted or pastel colors have many shades and variations, I thought that picking out a black or white would at least be simple.

Was I wrong!

White happens to be one of the hardest “colors” to select. Every shade has an undertone, ranging from warmer, creamier yellows to colder gray or blue tones. While the paint chip might look like it’s just a regular white, once it’s up on the wall, you might see it as green, purple or pink, depending on the light and time of day. Surprisingly, even black—the absence of color—has undertones ranging from blue-black, brown-black or charcoal-gray.

I also learned that colors are greatly affected by their surroundings. The very same color in a north-facing room can look completely different in a south-facing one with stronger sunlight. Moreover, other colors within the room, like your furnishings, or even trees outside the window can change the appearance of a color. So a white room with lots of shrubbery outside may reflect a green shade.

To really choose your perfect color, you need to see how it interacts with the many other things within its environment.

Which brings me to people. Every one of us is so complex! We all have fundamental “undertones,” positive and negative traits that can be triggered in different situations. Moreover, our environment plays a huge role in helping or preventing our true undertones from surfacing. The right, supportive circumstances can bring out our best colors.

So, if your child (or you) is not succeeding, check if the environment needs tweaking. Maybe he or she needs a different kind of learning style. Maybe you need a more creative work environment.

Pirkei Avot states, hevei zahir bemitzvah kallah kevachamurah, which literally means “be careful with small commandments as you are with more serious ones.” The word zahir, “careful,” also means “to illuminate.” Mitzvot, “commandments,” are G‑d’s guidebook, communicating with us how to lead the most enriched, blessed, meaningful life that refines and illuminates ourselves and our world.

This coming week we celebrate Shavuot, when the Jewish people received the Torah. We answered, naase venishma, “we will do and we will listen.” We vowed to do—to adhere to G‑d’s will—even before we understood all the particulars of what we were expected to do.

We commit ourselves to “do,” knowing this is G‑d’s will and ultimately best for us. But then must come nishma, “learning” how to uniquely apply ourselves to this body of laws and find our own path within the Torah.

This is all about learning how to find the right outlet, environment and surroundings to imbue our lives with our greatest hues and talents. So that all our undertones can truly shine!

Wishing you a Chag Sameach!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW