Dear Readers,

Have you tried to thread a needle recently? Why does the hole seem to get smaller and smaller the older I get?

Without my reading glasses, the task is impossible. It looks like the thread is going directly into the hole, but when I peek through the other end, I realize that it was a miss. Finally, I concede defeat and put on my glasses, and suddenly, the task is doable.

Did the hole get any bigger? Of course not. But my perspective changed. My eyesight became stronger and what appeared blurry before is now much clearer.

A Torah perspective is like putting on reading glasses. The challenges in our lives still remain as thorny, complex and difficult. The hole is the same hole. But what had felt like an impossible, insurmountable hurdle has just gotten a drop less intimidating because our priorities are clearer. The possibility of overcoming what had felt so debilitating suddenly has grown larger. That doesn’t mean the problem will be solved instantly, but we can feel encouraged that what we are going through is purposeful, and for our growth and benefit, even when we can’t discern how.

Prayer is an example of reaching such an enriched perspective. The word to pray is l’hitpallel, which is reflexive. Prayer is considered avodah shebalev (Taanis2a), a “service of the heart.” It requires work and service, but ultimately, it is meant to create a change within us. We recognize all the good in our life, and as we seek G‑d’s assistance with our current trial, we can breathe a little easier, knowing that G‑d has heard us.

Shabbat is another means of changing our perspective. Every week, it brings illumination to our world, which so often seems so dark. While every mitzvah introduces light into the world, the Shabbat candles generate actual light.

Picture a home in the few minutes before the onset of Shabbat. It is often frenzied as last-minute tasks are hectically being done in preparation of the holy day. The moment after the candles are lit, a peace descends. Is it the same room, the same walls as five minutes ago? Of course! But it’s an entirely different environment as a new spiritual, peaceful aura encapsulates our world.

Every mitzvah accomplishes this. So when we say a blessing on our apple, we broaden our appreciation and gratitude, just as we do when we give charity to a fellow. When we hang a mezuzah on our door, we remember that we are being embraced and protected by G‑d.

The word mitzvah has a dual meaning: “commandment” and “bond.” Every mitzvah connects us to G‑d by doing His command, and gifts us with a clearer perspective of how to view ourselves and our world.

Wishing you a week of wonderfully clear perspectives—and easy needle-threading.

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW