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Mom Waters Fake Succulent Plant for Two Years

March 26, 2020 1:43 AM

Dear Readers,

Several weeks ago, Caelie Wilkes, a stay-at-home mom, posted an interesting story on her Facebook page that not only went viral, but was picked up by news outlets across the world.

In Caelie’s own words:

I’ve had this beautiful succulent for about 2 years now, I was so proud of this plant. It was full, beautiful coloring … I had it up in my kitchen window. I had a watering plan for it; if someone else tried to water my succulent, I would get so defensive because I just wanted to keep good care of it. I absolutely loved my succulent. Today I decided it was time to transplant, so I found the cutest vase that suited it perfectly. I go to pull it from the original plastic container it was purchased with to learn this plant was FAKE. I put so much love into this plant! I washed its leaves. Tried my hardest to keep it looking its best and it’s completely plastic! How did I not know this? I pull it from the container, it’s sitting on Styrofoam with sand glued on top! I feel like these last two years have been a lie.

Imagine realizing that something you had loved and nurtured for years was just a fake piece of plastic, simulating the true reality. How would you feel about discovering that some goal or lifestyle or relationship that you had pursued for years was, in fact, not authentic?

Seems far-fetched? In fact, it is our daily existence here in exile.

Our sages compare exile to a dream; it feels so real when we are experiencing it, but the moment we wake up, we realize that it was a facade, covering up the true reality.

Yet since we have been born into our exiled circumstance, our material things, our distress and anxiety, our constraints and feelings of lowliness, these all feel so genuine. Too often, we spend our lives in pursuit of things we believe will make us happy and fulfilled, only to discover how fleeting and fake they really are. We nurture our “plastic” world and our fake image, and we can’t fathom a more authentic experience—an experience where we realize our Divine source and powers.

On the Seder night on Pesach, we get a taste of that reality. Pesach is the festival that celebrates freedom, when we commemorate our seemingly impossible redemption from Egypt. To the Jewish slaves, our situation felt hopeless, but G‑d quickly revealed that the mighty Egyptian King Pharaoh and his army were merely a front that could easily be surmounted with G‑d’s help.

Our world now has been steeped into a very difficult situation. The Corona virus has turned our lives upside down and is creating havoc in our world. Far worse, it is claiming precious lives. May G‑d help us to experience true liberation and finally be released from this bitter exile.

The first days of Passover celebrate that redemption from our first exile; the last day of Pesach, we have Moshiach’s seudah, which celebrates the future redemption from our final exile, when we will see the fakeness of our current situation and finally be submerged in a true reality, recognizing our Divine origin and our true mission in this world.

May it happen now!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

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 six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.

10 Liberating Holiday Blessings for You

March 20, 2020 2:30 PM

Dear Reader,

We’re in the month of Nissan, the month of the birth of our nation, just days away from Passover, our holiday of freedom. As we prepare our homes and ourselves to experience liberation amidst the very challenging circumstances of the Corona virus, here are 10 freedoms I wish to bless us all with. (Please feel free to add more in the comments below!)

The freedom to be free of worries, and the realization that G‑d has our back.

The freedom to experience true joy and happiness, and the realization that happiness is found within.

The freedom to be free of crushing envy, and the realization that the greatest wealth is having gratitude for what we have.

The freedom to be free of self-talk that tells you can’t and won’t, and the realizations that your G‑dly soul has unlimited powers.

The freedom to achieve our fullest potential, and the realization that we are all unique—your potential is not someone else’s.

The freedom to go beyond our constraints and limitations, and the realization that with G‑d’s help, yagata umatzata taamin—“when we extend ourselves, we will succeed.”

The freedom to think positively. When we open up the channels of faith within us, we open ourselves up to overwhelming blessings.

The freedom not to become bitter when things unexpectedly go wrong, coupled with the realization that G‑d has another plan for us.

The freedom to feel G‑d’s love and goodness for us, even when it is so hidden.

The freedom to see all the blessings in our lives because that is the greatest blessing of all.

Happy Passover preparations! Please stay safe and healthy!

Chana Weisberg

Editor, TJW

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 six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.

10 Things I’m Learning About Life in the Midst of the Coronavirus

March 13, 2020 3:50 PM
  1. No matter how powerful or advanced we think we are, ultimately, we’re not in control. G‑d runs the world and will run it exactly according to His own plan and His own timetable.
  2. G‑d will take care of us! We need to believe this. The man who delivered my friend’s groceries admonished, “You people believe in G‑d, so why such anxiety? G‑d created His kids; don’t you think He can take care of us?”
  3. Some of the greatest solutions are the simplest. Wash your hands, keep yourself clean, and don’t spread negative infection. Shouldn’t we follow this prescription in all areas of life?
  4. How we react to others in times of distress says so much about who we are. I’m seeing such generous offers of practical help for those in difficult situations.
  5. One virus has spread like wildfire, utterly changing our world. If this is true for in the negative sense, imagine the power of something positive, how infectious and powerful one good deed can be.
  6. Too often, we’re busy rushing through the mad dash of life. As we hunker down with our loved ones, we can re-evaluate our priorities and what’s really important.
  7. Our children and the people around us are looking to us for direction. If we demonstrate terrible frenzy, it snowballs into mass hysteria. If we remain calm and cautious, others take note and behave likewise.
  8. “There is no person that doesn’t have his time and no thing that doesn’t have its place” (Avot 4:3). Who would have thought the humble toilet-paper roll would become such a precious commodity? Don’t ever think of yourself as useless; everyone has their time to shine.
  9. Humor goes a long way. “The language of the wise is healing” (Proverbs 12:18). Happiness, positivity and wit can only help the situation.
  10. Worry is often worse than the disease itself. I’ll be honest, this is my personal take-home message. How often do I hear myself telling my children, “Of course, I’m worried! That’s my job as a Jewish mother!” Truthfully, our greatest enemy—perhaps more debilitating than any sickness or challenge—is feeling overwrought and stressed. It doesn’t help, but just feeds into the frenzy, creating even more widespread problems. We need to take preventive steps, but with a positive “can do” and “it will be good” attitude.

Wishing us all health and blessings!

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW

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 six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.

Why We Experience Darkness

March 2, 2020 11:55 AM

Dear Readers,

This week we greet the new Jewish month of Nissan. Chodesh Tov!

While still in Egypt, two weeks before the Exodus, G‑d instructed Moses to set the Jewish calendar by consecrating the monthly new moon. G‑d tells him that Nissan is to be the “head of months” and instructs about the Passover offering.

The Mechilta explains that G‑d showed Moses the new moon at its moment of rebirth and said to him: “When the moon is reborn, mark the beginning of a new month.” The Jewish calendar has been set by the moon ever since.

The Zohar teaches that the people of Israel set their calendar by the moon, because they are “the moon of the world.”

Midrash Rabbah explains that the early generations of our nations resembled the moon:

The moon begins to shine on the 1st of the month and increases in luminance till the 15th day, when her orb becomes full; from the 15th till the 30th day, her light wanes, on the 30th it is not seen at all. With Israel, too, there were 15 generations from Abraham to Solomon. Abraham began to shine … Jacob added to this light … When Solomon appeared, the moon’s orb was full … Henceforth the kings began to diminish … With Zedekiah [when the Holy Temple was destroyed] the light of the moon dimmed entirely.

In Egypt, for decades, the Jewish people were bitterly enslaved and then, the persecutions increased! But as it did, the Jewish heart and soul grew stronger. “The more they were oppressed, the more they increased and the more they spread” (Exodus 1:12). Despite our oppression, rather than breaking us as a people, we emerged; crushed perhaps, but never broken.

This pattern has repeated itself throughout our nation’s many exiles, persecutions and banishments.

For two weeks each month, the moon diminishes, steadily reducing until it is completely invisible so that it can once again be reborn. In doing so, the moon teaches us that darkness can give birth to light, and we can exploit our setbacks to reach greater, new levels.

Currently, the world is going through an extremely challenging time, as we battle a threatening virus that is wreaking havoc on the way we normally go about our day-to-day lives, and so many are becoming sick and infected. During these trying times, we need to draw closer to our Source, to find greater strength and faith, to rise together, in unity with one another, as greater people, as we await the final redemption.

The story of the moon is the story of our people and the story of each one of us. Like the moon, we dip only to soar, and each defeat can help us grow stronger and bring us to unprecedented new heights.

Stay safe and healthy!

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW

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 six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.

Why Do We Act in a Way That Contradicts Our Faith?

February 20, 2020 9:49 PM

Dear Readers,

There are countless stories throughout our history about Jews who didn’t believe in Torah and didn’t practise its mitzvot, and were not even connected to their community, but who refused to bow to idols or give up their religion, even on the penalty of death.

What compelled them to die as a Jew, when otherwise they could have been saved? What motivated them to keep that one strand of connection alive and strong, despite the consequences? Though outwardly they didn’t behave as a Jew, something deep within their soul stirred and made it unfathomable for them to sever their soul’s only connection with what they intuitively knew and felt was true, and they refused to be considered anything but a Jew—no matter the ramifications.

Such actions can only be understood when we realize that at the core of the soul’s experience, before entering our world, was a limitless revelation of G‑d. Moreover, our soul is actually a piece of G‑d. When our soul feels threatened that it will be broken off from the Source of all reality, it exerts itself.

Irrespective of our day-to-day behavior or manifested beliefs, at the core of our soul is emunahan experience of G‑dliness that supersedes everything. Even the staunchest non-believing Jew has as much emunah as the most devout. It is simply passive, but it remains an essential part of who he is.

And yet, the Talmud talks about a thief who stands at the threshold of a house that he’s about to rob, praying to G‑d for success. What an oxymoron! How can he pray to G‑d who commanded, “Do not steal”?

Because we each possess two souls: a G‑dly soul and an animal, or natural soul.

Our animal soul is in a constant struggle with our G‑dly soul to become the primary or even exclusive source of our motivations. Doubts come because our natural soul is right now prevailing. We need to become better in touch with our G‑dly soul, which is still just as full of emunah (“faith”), but its power is temporarily being concealed.

That is why another root for emunah is from emunin, which means, “exercise” or “training.” Ever work out at a gym? As you exercise, you discover and strengthen muscles you never knew were there.

Suppose, though, that you never trained. In a dangerous situation, you might have the adrenalin rush to run away from a threat. But in order to have these abilities on a consistent basis, you need to train your muscles. Similarly, we need regular “soul exercises” to be in tune with this part of our soul.

A great place to start is by learning Torah, especially those areas that teach us what our soul is. Because the whole purpose of our lives is to translate what our soul intuitively knows into regular, daily action.

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW

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 six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.

Introducing a New Audio Series

February 20, 2020 9:00 PM

Dear Reader,

This week we welcome the Jewish month of Adar. Every month possesses a distinct spiritual essence, and Adar contains the quality of transformative joy, as the Talmud teaches, “When the month of Adar enters, we increase in joy” (Taanit 29a).

On the 14th day of this month of Adar, we celebrate the holiday of Purim, the day established by Mordechai and Esther as a day of “feasting and rejoicing” in commemoration of the Jews’ salvation from Haman’s evil decree in the year 3,405 from creation (356 BCE).

Adar transforms sorrow into joy, a fearful and disunified people into a unified nation, committed and devoted to G‑d and His Torah, as we read in the Megillah, “The month that was reversed for them from grief to joy” (Esther 9:22).

We live in times that can often feel so dark and challenging. While sadness, despair or depression can hold us back and stagnate our progress towards change, happiness breaks through barriers, and helps us transform ourselves and our circumstances in ways we never thought possible.

So how can we access joy? By realizing that through our challenges, throughout our successes and our failures, our essential identity, our G‑dly soul—that piece of G‑d within us—is never affected, and remains completely pure and connected to G‑d.

Our relationship with the Master of the Universe is so deep, it rests at the very core of our being and can never be broken. In fact, even when we mess up and think we are walking away from G‑d, He anxiously awaits our return. No love could be deeper, no joy could be greater. This makes, really, every moment a moment for celebration.

In that vein, I think it is an appropriate week to introduce to you a new audio series that I’m very excited about. Women’s Tanya Classes by Rochel Shmukler is an interactive spiritual journey where you can study, discuss and apply the revolutionary ideas presented in the Tanya, a foremost work of Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism by the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi.

The Tanya describes how we’ve been provided unlimited opportunities for our soul to connect with G‑d. Some of the topics in this series include: “The True Definition of Reality,” “Align Your Everyday Awareness with Your Core Self” and “Becoming the Embodiment of the Divine Will.”

Learning and meditating on these ideas can help us achieve true joy. When we feel sad, we feel heavy and defeated. But when we feel joyful, we become empowered to reach upwards and onwards and to become even better, more connected individuals.

Wishing you a Chodesh Tov, a happy and joyous month of Adar!

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW

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 six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.

Why You Will Never Swat a Fly Midair

February 13, 2020 5:29 PM

Dear Readers,

What forms our perceptions of reality? On what do we base how we view our world?

Logic and rational plays a big role. Human beings have the unique capacity to think, analyze and determine. But there are many other factors.

Here’s an example: Have you ever bought a lottery ticket, enticed by the allure of winning millions?

What are the chances of winning? Only one in 14 million people will win big, but we dream that we’ll be that one.

Here’s another scenario: Have you ever texted while driving?

One in four car accidents is caused by texting and driving. Moreover, the likelihood of causing an accident while texting is six times more than driving while intoxicated.

So why when it comes to texting, do we think, ‘No way! It’s not going to happen to me!’ And yet, with a lottery ticket, we think I’ll be that one?

Because we want to believe in that, and so it changes how we perceive reality. Our education, our background, the society we grew up in, our predispositions, emotions or inclinations, and many other dynamics color or blur our vision, so that some of our decisions are not rational.

Moreover, our brain is limited, and when it doesn’t have the tools to comprehend something, it creates a thought process based on our preconceived notions.

Consider this: Have you ever tried to swat a fly midair? You’re sure that you got a direct hit, but a second later, you see it buzzing away. What happened?

Compared to humans, flies essentially see the world in slow motion. A fly can execute six full turns per second, and most flies can flap their wings 200 cycles per second. Flies move so quickly that our eyes can’t follow them. But instead of our brain admitting that it can’t track such speed, based on the fly’s trajectory, it estimates where the fly will be. Our brain’s subjective tracking is wrong; thus, when we try to swat that fly, we fail.

If so many of our perceptions are colored by our subjective outlooks, is there any objective truth?

The Torah is called Torat Emet, the “Torah of Truth” because the Torah describes G‑d’s reality. G‑d who is the Creator of our world, and the Creator of each of us is the only definition of absolute truth.

Inside our soul is a small piece of G‑d. Relating to that part of our soul and allowing its expression is where we activate our emunah, commonly translated as “faith.” Emunah, from the root amein literally means “truth” (just like when we say “Amen” to blessings or prayers, it means, “it is true.”) This part of our soul sees the truth of reality and its experience of G‑dliness.

While our brain can detect the five senses of our world, emunah begins where our brain’s reason leaves off. Just as a metal detector can sense many things—though not emotions, of course—our rational faculties are limited. Emunah doesn’t necessarily contradict reason; it just takes us beyond it, to experience the supra-rational of the soul’s true reality.

Wishing you a soulful week!

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW

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 six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.
Often we need a break from our daily routine. A pause from life to help us appreciate life.

A little pat on the back to let us know when we're on track. A word of encouragement to help us through those bleak moments and difficult days.

Sometimes, we just yearn for some friendship and camaraderie, someone to share our heart with. And sometimes we need a little direction from someone who's been there.

So, take a short pause from the busyness of your day and join Chana Weisberg for a cup of coffee.

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 six books. Her latest book, Shabbat Delights, is a two-volume series on the weekly Torah portion.
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